Sezen Aksu

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Sezen Aksu
Sezen Aksu (Minik Serçe).jpg
Background information
Birth name Fatma Sezen Yıldırım
Also known as Sezen Aksu
Born (1954-07-13) 13 July 1954 (age 64)
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, composer
Years active 1974–present
Labels DMC
Website Official Website

Sezen Aksu (Turkish pronunciation: [se'zen 'aksu]; born: Fatma Sezen Yıldırım; 13 July 1954 in Sarayköy, Denizli, Turkey) is a Turkish pop music singer, songwriter and producer who has sold over 40 million albums worldwide.[1] Her nicknames include the "Queen of Turkish Pop"[2][3] and Minik Serçe ("Little Sparrow").

Aksu's influence on Turkish pop and world music has continued since her debut in 1975, and has been reinforced by her patronage of and collaboration with many other musicians, including Sertab Erener, Şebnem Ferah, Aşkın Nur Yengi, Hande Yener, and Levent Yüksel.[4] Her work with Tarkan resulted in continental hits like "Şımarık" and "Şıkıdım" and her collaboration with Goran Bregovic widened her international audience.


Sezen Aksu was born in Sarayköy, Denizli, Turkey. Her family moved to Bergama when she was three years old and she spent her childhood and early youth there. Aksu's parents discouraged her singing because they wanted her to have a steady profession as a doctor or engineer. She used to wait until they left the house and sing on the family's balcony.[5] After finishing high school, she began studying at the local agricultural institute, but left college to concentrate on music.

Along with her close friend Ajda Pekkan, Aksu is credited with laying the foundations of Turkish pop music in the 1970s.[6] Her sound has also spread across the Balkans[7] and Greece.[8] Aksu has also toured in Europe and the U.S to critical appraise.[9]

She has championed a variety of causes, including support for constitutional reform, minority rights, women's rights, the environment, and educational reform in Turkey.[2] Aksu has been married and divorced four times, but kept the name from her second marriage to Ali Engin Aksu, a doctor of geology who currently resides in Canada. She has a son with Sinan Özer, named Mithat Can, who is also a lead vocalist of Pist'on band.


1975–1983: Early life[edit]

Nükhet Duru and Sezen Aksu in a concert in Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre, İstanbul, 2012

Sezen Aksu released her first single, Haydi Şansım/Gel Bana in 1975 under the name of "Sezen Seley".[10] However, she remained undiscovered until her 1976 single[11] Olmaz Olsun/Vurdumduymaz reached number one in the Turkish charts.[11] Sezen Aksu in 1976, "Promising Female Artist of the Year" award.[12] Her first album was 1978's Serçe, which was to give her the nickname,[10] penned by a Turkish journalist.

An Aksu drive finally got Turkey to apply for the Eurovision Song contest in the mid-70s. However, even though she competed in the national finals for the competition three times Küçük Bir Aşk Masalı (A Little Love Tale) was a duet with Özdemir Erdoğan, "Heyamola" was performed as a trio with Coşkun Demir and Ali Kocatepe and 1945 was her solo performance, none got the chance to represent Turkey abroad. It was to be left to her pupil Sertap Erener to win the Eurovision and realise Aksu's dream to push her musical vision further into Europe.

1970s: Career beginnings[edit]

In the 80's, Aksu had a relationship with producer Onno Tunç that was both romantic and professional. As a couple they put their signatures to works that broke new ground in Turkish pop music, such as Sen Ağlama, Git, Sezen Aksu'88 and Sezen Aksu Söylüyor. Her music matured in the 90's, when she co-produced her best selling album to-date Gülümse with Tunç. The A-1 track from the album called Hadi Bakalım was a hit in Turkey and Europe, and was published as a single in Germany. It was to be later rediscovered in Europop by singer Loona as Rhythm of the Night. She also began to produce albums for her vocalists, notably producing Aşkın Nur Yengi's debut album Sevgiliye (To a Lover) again with Tunç. She was to repeat her success with artists Sertap Erener and Levent Yüksel also.

Nilüfer and Sezen Aksu in a concert in Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre, 2012

Parting ways with Tunç, in 1995, Aksu branched out with the experimental album Işık Doğudan Yükselir, drawing both on western classical and regional Turkish musical traditions. This album made her name outside Turkey and gave her a world music following across Europe. In 1996, she released Düş Bahçeleri as a tribute to Tunç, who died that same year tragically when his private plane crashed. In 1997, she released Düğün ve Cenaze, this time collaborating with Goran Bregovic.

She returned to her roots with Adı Bende Saklı, which was released in 1998. She began to use experimental sounds and was once again pushing Turkish pop into the future. Aksu continued with this trend with her subsequent albums Deliveren, Şarkı Söylemek Lazım which also featured former Sparks bassist Martin Gordon as engineer/mixer (and also as bass player on her subsequent European tour), Yaz Bitmeden between the years 2000 - 2003. After a two-year hiatus, she returned with Bahane in 2005. That same year she released Kardelen where all proceeds went to charity, and before the end of 2005 released a Bahane/Remixes double-CD album which contained the original Bahane album in disc one and the remixes of songs in Bahane in disc two.

In 2005, she was featured in Fatih Akın's documentary film "Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul" with a performance of the song "İstanbul Hatırası", Aksu has recently been re-releasing all her old classics digitally remastered and with specially designed new sleeves.

In 2008, Aksu released her album called Deniz Yıldızı through Starfish Records. And in 2009 she released her latest album Yürüyorum Düş Bahçelerinde. The album contains new original songs as well as some older songs which were composed by Sezen Aksu for other singers, most notably Çakkıdı, Kibir, Yok Ki.

Sezen Aksu concert Maltepe University, 2009.

Sezen Aksu is widely known as a successful songwriter, most well known are, internationally, a 1997 song Şımarık "Naughty" and Şıkıdım"Shake" by Turkish singer Tarkan. Şımarık and Şıkıdım were both released in France in 1998 and the rest of the world in 1999, from the compilation album Tarkan, which was released in Europe. In 2010, it was on the "50 Great Sounds" list set by the American NPR radio.[13]


Sezen Aksu in 2009, has supported the settlement process in Turkey.[14] Turkish soldiers killed in Turkey-PKK conflict for "God's Tears" (Tanrı'nın Gözyaşları) composed the song. According to the LGBT magazine, KAOS GL, Sezen Aksu is a major gay icon, with the Turkish LGBT community embracing her as a pop culture representative.[15] During concerts she opens the rainbow flag on stage. In 2008 Aksu gave support to the LGBT association Lambdaistanbul, which was closed by court order on the grounds of being "contrary to public morality".


Studio albums[edit]

  • 1977: Allahaısmarladık
  • 1978: Serçe (Sparrow)
  • 1980: Sevgilerimle (Sincerely)
  • 1981: Ağlamak Güzeldir
  • 1982: Firuze (Turquoise)
  • 1984: Sen Ağlama (Don't Cry)
  • 1986: Git (Go)
  • 1988: Sezen Aksu'88
  • 1989: Sezen Aksu Söylüyor (Sezen Aksu Sings)
  • 1991: Gülümse (Smile)
  • 1993: Deli Kızın Türküsü (Crazy Girl's Ballad)
  • 1995: Işık Doğudan Yükselir (Ex Oriente Lux - Light Rises From the East)[16]
  • 1996: Düş Bahçeleri (Dream Gardens)
  • 1997: Düğün ve Cenaze (Wedding and Funeral)
  • 1998: Adı Bende Saklı (Its Name Is Hidden In Me)
  • 2000: Deliveren (Crazymaker)
  • 2002: Şarkı Söylemek Lazım(Gotta Sing)
  • 2003: Yaz Bitmeden (Before The Summer Ends)
  • 2005: Bahane (Excuse)
  • 2005: Kardelen (Snowdrop)
  • 2008: Deniz Yıldızı (Starfish)
  • 2009: Yürüyorum Düş Bahçeleri'nde... (I'm Walking In The Dream Gardens...)
  • 2011: Öptüm (I Kissed)
  • 2017: Biraz Pop Biraz Sezen (Little Pop A Little Sezen)

Remix albums[edit]

  • 1992 - Hadi Bakalım (Come On Now)
  • 1993 - Sude
  • 1997 - Cumartesi Türküsü
  • 1998 - Erkekler
  • 1999 - Sarı Odalar
  • 2001 - Remix Maxi Single
  • 2005 - Bahane Remixes (Excuse/Remixes)
  • 2011 - Öptüm Remix
  • 2013 - Kayıp Şehir
  • 2014 - Yeni ve Yeni Kalanlar
  • 2017 - Biraz Pop Biraz Sezen Remix

45s albums[edit]

  • 1975 - Haydi Şansım / Gel Bana (Come on My Luck/Come to Me)
  • 1976 - Olmaz Olsun / Seni Gidi Vurdum Duymaz (Wish It Never Happened/Insensitive)
  • 1976 - Kusura Bakma / Yaşanmamış Yıllar
  • 1977 - Kaybolan Yıllar / Neye Yarar
  • 1977 - Allahaısmarladık / Kaç Yıl Geçti
  • 1978 - Gölge Etme / Aşk
  • 1979 - Allahaşkına / Sensiz İçime Sinmiyor
  • 1979 - İlk Gün Gibi / Yalancı
  • 1983 - Heyamola


  • Minik Serçe - (The Little Sparrow) (1979)
  • Büyük Yalnızlık - (Great Solitude) (1990)
  • Crossing The Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005)
  • The Ottoman Republic (2008)


  • Sezen Aksu Aile Gazinosu - (Sezen Aksu Family Music Hall) (1982)
  • Bin Yıl Önce Bin Yıl Sonra - (1000 Years Before, 1000 Years Later) (1986)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CD Baby Archived 2006-05-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b 6Moons Review
  3. ^ "Sezen Aksu – review". The Guardian. 21 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Sezen Aksu and Her Children
  5. ^ Grant, Neva (12 April 2010). "Sezen Aksu: The Voice Of Istanbul". Morning Edition(50 great voices). Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Aksu's expressive vocal technique, distinctive songwriting, and prolific output were all integral to her success and to the development of a unique Turkish pop sound. Many musicians--for example, Alexander Hacke and several of the artists he interviewed for the documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul--have acknowledged Sezen Aksu's broad influence.
  7. ^ "Goran Bregovic: Welcome to Bregovic". The Guardian. 21 July 2009. 
  8. ^ With the Greek diaspora from Turkey in the seventies, many brought their musical tastes, which included Aksu's music to Greece; the Greek musicians Haris Alexiou and Giorgos Dalaras acknowledge her influence.
  9. ^ "Sezen Aksu". The Guardian. 19 June 2002. 
  10. ^ a b "Biography of Sezen Aksu". October 2008. 
  11. ^ a b "Sezen Aksu hakkında". Sezen Aksu official. 2008. 
  12. ^ "Best of 1976". Hey. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "50 Great Voices". NPR. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Renowned singer Aksu deplores ongoing bloodshed, calls for end to Kurdish issue". Today's Zaman. 18 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 December 2015. 
  15. ^ Semra Kardeşoğlu (15 September 2002). "Gay'ler hangi şarkıcıları sever?". Milliyet. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, Richard Trillo World Music: Africa, Europe and the Middle East 1858286352 1999 p.410 "The release of this album made headline news in Turkey. Despite the hype, it is an intriguing CD, from the overblown orchestral opening (worked out with Onno Tune), to the intimate and sparse style which characterises all of her recent work."


External links[edit]