The headliner for this years edition of IstanbuLive 2012 was Selda Bağcan who turned in an impressive, impassioned set. She's been compared to Edith Piaf and Joan Baez, but I think Mercedes Sosa would be more on the mark.
It is hard for most of us to imagine the conditions under which Bağcan conducted her early career. A series of military coups in the early 70s took Turkey from a fairly open society in which the youth movement was musically active, to one in which repression and disappearances were rife. Bağcan was arrested and put on trial nine times and imprisoned three times, all for singing songs that sided with the poor and powerless, and for being associated with the Left.
But through it all, her celebrity grew, and as Mehmet Dede, one of the organizers of the festival, said to me "She is one of those artists that I listen to, that my daughter and my son will listen to, and my parents have listened to. She covers all those generations." And indeed, all those generations were represented in the audience, as well as a surprising cross section of New York ethnicities. I was very much taken with the power of her voice, although she professes to having less lung power than in her youth. And it's easy to hear why people relate to her music, as it is both melodic and highly emotional. The song that I've presented here is "Gömdüm Oğul Seni." It is a folk song (although Selda has penned many of her own hits) sung from the point of view of a mother who has seen her young son hanged. From the first notes, the audience roared its recognition, and throughout the concert Selda encouraged everyone to sing along with her.
Oğul (Gömdüm Oğul Seni)
My Son (I Buried You My Son)
I buried you my son
I turned the bloody tears into a fountain
I died on your coffin
Break those hands that have hit you my son
I did not get enough of your voice and your height
They put a thick rope around your thin neck
You fell like a rose to the bosom of the ground
Break those hands that have hung you my son
Will a son lost ever be replaced?
Ah my son, my wounds went deep
Look at the works of the wrongdoers
Break those hands that have burnt you my son
Selda's band is: Volkan Basaran - Guitar, Kemal Esen - Baglama, İzzet Tokay - Drums
Serdar Donduran - Keys, and ringers Ismail Lumenovski on clarinet and Tamer Pinarbasi on Kanun.
My thanks to Mevlüt Akaya for supplementary footage from on stage.
For more of Michal's world music videos visit inter-muse.com