A musical mosaic of Balkan, Central Asian and Middle Eastern flavors mixed with sophisticated global pop and dance music
In 2005, Putumayo’s head of A&R, Jacob Edgar, traveled to Istanbul to immerse himself in Turkey’s culture and discover its music. Though its cities are filled with the ancient architecture of its long history, Turkey is considered one of the most modern Muslim countries in the world. This cultural juxtaposition is most evident in Turkey’s contemporary pop music scene, where classical traditions and instrumentation blend with sophisticated global pop and dance music. Putumayo World Music’s newest release, Turkish Groove, reflects this unique musical mosaic and joins the successful Groove series, which has sold over one million CDs.
Much like their Western pop counterparts, Turkish stars push the limit of their society’s standards of acceptability. As a result, Turkish pop music is crossing over to audiences outside Turkey, making inroads into the contemporary scenes of Europe and Latin America though remaining largely unknown in other parts of the world. Leading the way is Tarkan, with his boyish good looks, smooth voice and infectious rhythms. Now working on his first English language album, Tarkan is sure to continue storming the international pop scene.
Sertab found fame when she became the first Turkish winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, beating out the controversial Russian duo t.A.T.u. Dramatic and smoky, her track “Buda” weaves a mantra of layered vocals and classic instrumentation with electronic subtleties. Recognized as one of the most successful female singers in Turkey, Sertab has recorded duets with José Carreras and Ricky Martin.
Internationally recognized Mustafa Sandal could be considered the Justin Timberlake of Turkey, with his equally charming appearance and voice propelling him to superstardom in his native home. On “Kalmadi,” Sandal reflects his diverse musical influences; despondent lyrics are woven with the classical sounds of the kanun (a traditional Turkish instrument) and then mingled with a flamenco-esque guitar and polished mixing techniques for a truly modern effect.
Embellished with gypsy brass and string arrangements, Nilgül’s voice glides over Arabic rhythms on the track “Piş Pişla.” Tuğba Ekinci was launched to superstardom with a music video that rivals those of Shakira. Dressed in seductive military garb, Tuğba danced her way into the hearts of men across the country, simultaneously shocking a nation whose female majority dresses in traditional Muslim attire. “Oha Falan Oldum Yani,” her contribution to Turkish Groove, leaves an equally lasting impression.
As Turkish pop takes its place on the international stage, its fusions of cultural traditions and modern techniques play to an ever-expanding audience. Putumayo’s Turkish Groove hopes to serve as an introduction to the contemporary sounds of this culturally rich country.
Kirmizi Biber by Bendeniz on Turkish Groove