Sezen Aksu (13 July 1954) is a Turkish pop music singer, song-writer and producer, popular both with a mass audience in Turkey, and with world music fans internationally. So far her albums have reached a total circulation of 40 million. She is widely considered to be the "Queen of Turkish Pop" and her fans call her "Minik Serçe" (Little Sparrow). Along with Ajda Pekkan, Sezen is considered one of the true superstars of the Turkish pop sub-genre.
Well respected and a favourite among her peers, Aksu has also groomed and collaborated with many other musicians securing the furture of her legacy in Turkish pop, including Sertab Erener, Şebnem Ferah, Aşkın Nur Yengi, Hande Yener, and Levent Yüksel. Possibly the most well-known is her musical partnership with Tarkan that resulted in continental hits like "Şımarık" and "Şıkıdım".
Sezen Aksu was born Fatma Sezen Yıldırım in Denizli, Turkey. Her family moved to İzmir when she was 3 years old and she spent her childhood and early youth there. After finishing high school, she began to study at the local agricultural institute, but gave up her studies to concentrate on music ---- time.
Aksu is credited with laying the foundations of Turkish pop music in the 1970s with female star and close friend Ajda Pekkan, both reaching superstar status domestically. It was Aksu's songwriting talents, however, that is credited with giving Turkish pop its unique sound, which is emulated across the Balkans and Greece today and it was this sound that changed the face of the Eurovision song contest when her protegé Sertab Erener won in 2003.
A staunch activist and spokeswoman for the environment and the oppressed, each of Aksu's releases over the last few years have turned huge media events where she often performs with her famous 35-piece Oriental orchestra. Her concert tickets are sold for high prices, with local celebrities attending most events.
Aksu has been married and divorced four times. She has a son from her first marriage with Sinan Özer.
Sezen Aksu pictured during her younger daysAksu released her first single, Haydi Şansım/Gel Bana (Come on My Luck/Come to Me) in 1975 under the name of Sezen Seley. However, she remained undiscovered until her 1976 single Olmaz Olsun/Vurdumduymaz (Wish It Never Happened/Insensitive) reached number one in the Turkish charts. Her first album was 1978's Serçe (Sparrow), which gave her also her nickname, penned by a Turkish journalist.
Collaborating with producer Onno Tunç, the couple have put their signatures to works that broke new ground in Turkish pop music, starting with the album Sen Ağlama (Don't Cry). United both profesionally and romantically, the albums Git (Go), Sezen Aksu'88 and Sezen Aksu Söylüyor (Sezen Aksu Sings) produced by the couple throughout the 80s are considered to be pop music classics.
A Sezen Aksu drive finally got Turkey to apply for the Eurovision Song contest in the mid-70s. Ironically 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 Erener to win the Eurovision and realise Aksu's dream to push her musical vision further into Europe.
Aksu's more mature attempts came with 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 (Come On Now) was a hit in Turkey and Europe, and was published as a single in Germany.
She also began to produce albums for her vocalists, notably producing Aşkın Nur Yengi's debut album Sevgiliye (To the One I Love) again with Tunç. She was to repeat this success----y with artists Erener and Yüksel.
Parting ways with Tunç, in 1995, Aksu branched out with the experimental album Işık Doğudan Yükselir (Light Rises From the East), drawing both on western classical and regional Turkish musical traditions. This album made her name outside Turkey and gave her a devoted world music following across Europe.
In 1996, she released Düş Bahçeleri (Dream Gardens) as a tribute to Tunç, who died that same year tragically when his private plane crashed.
In 1997, she released Düğün ve Cenaze (Wedding And Funeral), this time collaborating with Goran Bregović.
She returned to her roots with Adı Bende Saklı (His Name Is Hidden In Me), 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 (Crazymaker), Şarkı Söylemek Lazım (Gotta Sing), Yaz Bitmeden (Before The Summer Ends) between the years 2000 - 2003.
After a two year hiatus, she returned with Bahane (Excuse) in 2005. That same year she released Kardelen (Snowdrop) where all proceeds went to charity, and before the end of 2005 released a Bahane/Remixes (Excuse/Remixes) double-CD album which contained the original Bahane album in disc one and the remixes of songs in Bahane in disc two. At the end of the year her albums Bahane, Kardelen and the re-released album Şarkı Söylemek Lazım were the three best-selling albums in the country.
In 2005 she was featured in Fatih Akin's documentary film "Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul" with a performance of the song "Istanbul Hatirasi."
Aksu has recently been re-releasing all her old classics digitally remastered and with specially designed new sleeves.
After her concert tour in summer 2006, she will record a new album in the USA.
Sezen Aksu Aile Gazinosu - (Sezen Aksu Family Music Hall) (1982)
Bin Yıl Önce Bin Yıl Sonra - (1000 Years Before, 1000 Years Later ) (1986)