Music is an integral part of several cultures, and Turkish culture is no exception. The music of Turkey is rich and varied. It often contains influences from the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine period, and Middle Eastern, European, and Northern African influences.
Turkish singers make a vital contribution to Turkey’s musical culture. Over time they have touched on several genres, including pop, rock, dance, opera, and more. Read on to learn more about 11 of the most famous Turkish singers throughout history.
1. Ibrahim Tatlises
Born in 1952 in Urfa, Turkey, Ibrahim Tatlises is a Turkish actor and folk singer. He specializes in the Arabesk style of music and pop-folk. Besides singing, Tatlises was also the host of the Ibo Show, and he appeared in several more.
He started releasing music at the age of 18 in 1970, but it wasn’t until 1977 that he began his rise to prominence.
A prolific singer, Tatlises released 42 albums between 1970 and 2021. Some of his hits include “Kara Kiz/Beni Yakma Gel Guzelim,” “Dom Dom Kursunu,” “Bebegim,” and “Sarhos.”
He won the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival award in 2018, the Golden Palm Lifetime Success Award in 2015, and several Pantene Golden Butterfly Awards.
2. Dario Moreno
Born David Arugete in 1921 in Aydin, Turkey, this multi-talented artist became known by his stage name of Dario Moreno.
Besides singing, Moreno also composed, wrote music, appeared in movies, and played guitar. He started his career singing at Bar Mitzvah parties and in the army.
Moreno sang in several languages, including French, which resulted in a robust career in France. He was known for certain songs, such as “Ya Mustafa” and “Brigette Bardot.”
During his career, Moreno released 12 albums, and in 1958, he won the Grand Prix Du Disque.
3. Leyla Gencer
Leyla Gencer was born in Polonezkoy, Turkey in 1928. She was an operatic soprano who did not make many recordings.
After studying in the Istanbul Conservatory and then privately, she made her operatic debut in Ankara in 1950. In the following years, she sang at several Turkish governmental events.
Soon she traveled to Italy and Paris to perform in several operas, where she spent much of her career.
Gencer has performed on at least 40 albums, even though she became a singing teacher in her later career. In Istanbul, there is an annual singing competition named after Gencer.
4. Hande Yener
Hande Yenner was born Makbule Hande Ozyener in 1973 in Istanbul, Turkey. Even though she started her career as a backup singer for Sezen Aksu, she is known for her contributions to pop and dance music.
In 2000, she released her debut album, Senden Ibaret. Over the years, her musical style evolved, but she remains very popular.
Between 2000 and 2020, Yener released 14 studio albums, and she won three Golden Palm Awards in 2016, 2018, and 2020.
She also won four Pantene Golden Butterfly Awards in 2000, 2008, 2011, and 2016.
5. Ajda Pekkan
Ajda Pekkan was born in 1946 in Istanbul, Turkey where she is known by the nickname “Superstar.”
Even though she first rose to prominence in 1963, she has maintained her popularity for several decades. Pekkan makes music in the dance, pop, and Schlager genres, but she often adopts western elements in her music.
In her early career, she worked as an actress and singer, but over time, she decided to focus primarily on singing. After the 1970s, she became more well-known outside of Turkey.
Between 1968 and 2021, Pekkan released 20 albums, and in 2013 she received the Art-Cultural and Human Artist Award and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
6. Ahmet Kaya
Ahmet Kaya was born in 1957 in Malatya, Turkey where, from a young age, he performed for his family and friends.
He also worked as a musician in the Turkish army, so it’s easy to see why some of his music addressed the Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
Kaya’s career involved some controversy after he butted heads with Turkish nationalist celebrities. Not long after those issues arose, he went to live in France and soon died from a heart attack.
He released 17 albums during his life between 1985 and 1998, and after his death, four albums came out posthumously.
7. Sezen Aksu
Sezen Aksu was born as Fatma Sezen Yıldırım in 1954 in Denizli, Turkey, and she is known for primarily singing pop music. She made her debut in 1975, and she gained further acclaim in the following years.
Aksu also has a reputation as a great songwriter, and she has collaborated with many other Turkish musicians. Her musical influence can be found in nearby countries, such as Greece.
Throughout her career, Aksu has sold over 40 million albums and toured Europe and the United States.
Between 1977 and 2018, Aksu released 25 albums and 11 remix albums. She also participated in four films and two musicals and wrote two books.
8. Bülent Ersoy
Bülent Ersoy was born in 1952 in Istanbul, where she was given the nickname “Diva” by her fans. She started her career as a Turkish classical music singer but later integrated more pop elements into her music.
She first rose to prominence in 1974. In 1981 she underwent gender reassignment surgery, but sadly, after the surgery, the Turkish government banned her from performing publicly. As a result, she shifted her career to Germany.
Between 1973 and 2021, Ersoy released 43 albums and two singles, and she was also in about 28 films and TV shows. Some of her famous songs include “Bedduza,” “Maazallah,” “Geceler,” and “Sefam Olsun.”
9. Sertab Erener
Sertab Erener was born in 1964 in Istanbul, Turkey, where she started her career as a backup vocalist for Sezen Aksu. She made her solo debut in 1992 with her album, Sakin Ol!
Her musical style evolved over time, and now she primarily focuses on pop music, with a style that includes elements of western and eastern music.
In 2003, Erener won the Eurovision Song Contest with her song, “Everyway That I Can.” Her success marked the first time that Turkey won the contest. In addition, she won seven Kral TV Video Music Awards and two Golden Butterfly Awards.
10. Hadise Açıkgöz
Hadise Açıkgöz was born in 1985 in Mol, Belgium, to Turkish parents, but she often simply goes by Hadise.
Açıkgöz became well-known after the 2005 release of Sweat. Her 2008 album, Hadise, includes music in English and Turkish.
In 2009, Açıkgöz represented Turkey in the Eurovision Song Contest, and she achieved fourth place.
She has worked as a TV presenter, yet still found the time to release eight albums between 2005 and 2021. She also won many awards, including the TMF Awards, Jetix Kids Awards, Balkan Music Awards, and Altın Kelebek.
11. Şebnem Ferah
Şebnem Ferah was born in 1972 in Yalova, Turkey. In addition to singing, she plays guitar, mandolin, and keyboards.
In addition to her solo career, she is known as the lead vocalist for Volvox, a hard rock band; however, she plays some pop music in addition to the hard rock music.
In 1988, Ferah formed Volvox with her friends, with the band going on to perform until 1994.
In 1996, she released her first solo album, which was very well received. Between 1996 and 2018, she released nine albums.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous Singers From Turkey
Music in Turkey is varied, and that range is reflected in the different singers in Turkey who have been famous throughout history.
Some sing traditional Turkish folk music, while others sing opera, pop, and rock music. Many Turkish singers can sing in several languages and have had international success.
So, if you want to experience some important elements of Turkish culture, music is a great place to start.
With such a range of music available, you can find a singer whose genre you enjoy.
Try listening to contemporary artists as well as classic Turkish artists. Taking a listen will give you a good idea of what Turkish music has to offer.