Sezen Aksu

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Sezen Aksu
Sezen Aksu (Minik Serçe).jpg
Fatma Sezen Yıldırım

(1954-07-13) 13 July 1954 (age 65)
ResidenceKanlıca, Beykoz, Istanbul
Other namesSezen Seley
Educationİzmir Girls High School
Ege University (left)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • producer
  • actress
Hasan Yüksektepe
(m. 1972; div. 1972)

Ali Engin Aksu
(m. 1974; div. 1978)

Sinan Özer
(m. 1981; div. 1983)

Ahmet Utlu
(m. 1993; div. 1997)
Children1 (with Sinan Özer)
Musical career
Years active1974–present
  • Hop
  • Kent
  • Kervan
  • Sembol
  • Fono
  • Coşkun
  • Foneks
  • Karma
  • Raks
  • PolyGram
  • Post
  • DMC
  • Seyhan
Associated actsOnno Tunç
Sezen Aksu signature.png

Sezen Aksu (Turkish pronunciation: [seˈzen ˈaksu]; born Fatma Sezen Yıldırım; 13 July 1954) 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. NPR has named her as one of the "50 Great Voices" of the world.[5][6]


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.[7] 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.[8] Her sound has also spread across the Balkans[9] and Greece.[10] Aksu has also toured in Europe and the U.S to critical appraise.[11]

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]

Sezen Aksu released her first single, Haydi Şansım/Gel Bana in 1975 under the name of "Sezen Seley".[12] However, she remained undiscovered until her 1976 single[13] Olmaz Olsun/Vurdumduymaz reached number one in the Turkish charts.[13] In 1976, Sezen Aksu won the "Promising Female Artist of the Year" award.[14] Her first album was 1978's Serçe, which earned her a famous nickname,[12] first penned by a Turkish journalist.

Aksu finally decided to represent Turkey at the Eurovision Song Contest in the mid-70s. However, even though she competed in the national finals for the competition three times, with Küçük Bir Aşk Masalı (A Little Love Tale) as a duet with Özdemir Erdoğan, "Heyamola" which was performed as a trio with Coşkun Demir and Ali Kocatepe, and 1945 which was a solo performance, she did not get the chance to represent Turkey abroad. It was to be left to her pupil, Sertab 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 as a teacher with artists Sertab Erener and Levent Yüksel.


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 known outside Turkey and gave her a worldwide audience, especially in 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, who also was bass player on her subsequent European tour), and 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 disc two.

Sezen Aksu's concert at Maltepe University, 2009.

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".

In 2008, Aksu released her album called Deniz Yıldızı through Starfish Records. In 2009 she released her 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.

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

Sezen Aksu is widely known as a successful songwriter, with her most well-known internationally songs being the 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.[15]


Aksu is known for her sensitivity to social problems and events. In 2009 she refused to support Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's democratic initiative, and supported the settlement process in Turkey.[16] As a result journalist Hikmet Çetinkaya claimed that Aksu's father was a supporter of the Nur movement.[17][18] While some artists stood behind Aksu, some expressed that Aksu's behavior was unreasonable. In 2012, Aksu wrote the song "Tanrının Gözyaşları" (Tears of God) in memory of soldiers who had died during the Kurdish–Turkish conflict.[19]

About the young people who participated in the first days of the Gezi Park protests in 2013 she said: "This is the first youth revolution in the world. They have sent an extraordinary message and the people there and those who are coming to the streets are speaking their words with an extraordinary language."[20] In 2014, she again paid tribute to the young people who took part in the protests with her new single "Yeni ve Yeni Kalanlar".[21]

Aksu is keen to fight against issues such as misogyny, illiteracy, discrimination, bullying and homophobia. 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.[22] She is praised by the LGBT community in Turkey[23] and helps other artists who support LGBT people.[23][24] In 2008, Aksu supported LGBT association Lambdaistanbul, which was closed by a court decision based on "the fact that it is contrary to general morality".[25] Later at her concerts in 2013, a huge rainbow flag symbolizing the LGBT movement was waved on the stage, in support of the SPOD (Social Policy Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) and the LGBT society and movement.[26]


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)[27]
  • 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 (A Little Pop A Little Sezen)
  • 2018: Demo

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)


  • Eksik Şiir (First issue: 9 September 2006 - Second issue: 11 May 2007)
  • Eksik Şiir İkinci Kitap (November 2016)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CD Baby Archived 2006-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b " - world music: Sezen Aksu "Sarki Söylemek Lazim "". Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Sezen Aksu – review". The Guardian. 21 October 2011.
  4. ^ " - Dialogue with the Islamic World". Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  5. ^ "50 Great Voices". NPR. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Sezen Aksu: The Voice Of Istanbul". NPR. 12 April 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  7. ^ Grant, Neva (12 April 2010). "Sezen Aksu: The Voice Of Istanbul". Morning Edition(50 great voices). Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Goran Bregovic: Welcome to Bregovic". The Guardian. 21 July 2009.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Sezen Aksu". The Guardian. 19 June 2002.
  12. ^ a b "Biography of Sezen Aksu". October 2008.
  13. ^ a b "Sezen Aksu hakkında". Sezen Aksu official. 2008.
  14. ^ "Best of 1976". Hey. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  15. ^ "50 Great Voices". NPR. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ Sezen Aksu'dan Başbakan'a açılım telefonu Sabah newspaper
  18. ^ Sezen Aksu'dan Erdoğan'a tam destek Haber 7 news
  19. ^ "Sezen Aksu Şehitler İçin Yazdı..." Acunn. 7 September 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  20. ^ "Sezen Aksu'dan Başbakan'a mesaj". Hürriyet. 7 June 2013. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  21. ^ "Sosyal medyadaki tartışmalara yönelik önemli düzeltme…". Sezen Aksu Official Website. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  22. ^ Semra Kardeşoğlu (15 September 2002). "Gay'ler hangi şarkıcıları sever?". Milliyet. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  23. ^ a b Semra Kardeşoğlu (17 September 2002). "Gay'ler hangi şarkıcıları sever?". Milliyet. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  24. ^ "Sezen Aksu'dan Gezi'ye ve eşcinsellere inadına destek!". 10 August 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  25. ^ "Sezen'den Eşcinsellere Destek". Magazinhaberi. 15 July 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  26. ^ "40 yıllık nasihat: Şarkı söylemek lazım". Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  27. ^ 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]