Turkish Diva Sezen Aksu Delights Concert Halls for TURKOFAMERICA's Eighth Anniversary

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Photo by Engin Tekin.
When Sezen Aksu arrived at JFK International Airport on April 2, 2010, Turkish Americans were ready to listen to her after her ten-year absence from U.S. concert halls. Even though having gone through a 10-hour trip from Istanbul to New York, she was energetic and had a smiley face. She was happy to be in New York again to perform after 10 years. 

Her close friend, artist Meltem Cumbul, and director Yasar Gaga were with her, and Aksu’s first comment about New York was that the city was her favorite city in the world.  She said she couldn’t live in a city where she wouldn’t be able to walk on its streets freely. When she compares New York to Los Angeles, she says, “I can’t live in Los Angeles.”  

Her first wish was that the concert series would have a great success for sides, organizers and her crew. 

Turkey's famous “Little Sparrow,” pop singer and composer Sezen Aksu, performed her concert series for TURKOFAMERICA Magazine’s eighth anniversary in the U.S. The concert series started on April 4th at Maryland’s Strathmore Hall, continued at New Jersey’s NJ PAC on April 6th and finished at New York’s Carnegie Hall on April 7, 2010.
With an orchestra conducted by composer Fahir Atakoğlu, Aksu drew sustained applause from the crowd at all three halls. The present series marks the first time Aksu has embarked on a U.S. tour, having not played in the country since the "Moon and Stars Project" in 2000.

THE BIGGEST TURKISH-AMERICAN CONCERT ORGANIZATION
One of Turkey’s biggest pop music exports, Sezen Aksu, (born on July 13, 1954) is a pop music singer, songwriter and producer who has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Her nicknames include the "Queen of Turkish Pop" and "Minik Serce" (Little Sparrow).  She filled North Bethesda’s Strathmore, New York’s Carnegie Hall and New Jersey’s NJ PAC for nights of nostalgia with almost 8,000 fans. The series sold the largest number of tickets for any Turkish-American concert series.

The Sezen Aksu Concert Series was organized by TURKOFAMERICA Magazine and GNL Entertainment, and sponsored by the Washington, DC-based Turkish Cultural Foundation, Pittsburg-based Vocelli Pizza, Delta Airlines, Istikbal Furniture, Turkon Line, Kismet Limousine, Fort Lee Federal Savings Bank, Turkish Kitchen, Ali Baba Restaurant, Toros Restaurant, Royal Auto, Mega Shipping, Pera Restaurant and Amerturk, Inc. The concerts have drawn great interest from Turks living in Maryland, New York and New Jersey, as well as the neighboring states Virginia, Washington, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and even Florida. Over 20 companies were the service sponsors for the concert series as well.

The series was the biggest concert organization in terms of spectators and budgets organized by Turkish-Americans in the U.S.  The sponsorship of Delta Airlines was unique for the Turkish-American community in the U.S. because it was the first time in the community’s history that a Fortune 500 company sponsored a concert which was organized by Turkish-Americans. Performing along with composer and pianist Fahir Atakoğlu, Aksu was on stage for roughly two-and-a-half hours at the halls. After Sertab Erener, Sezen Aksu was the second Turkish singer who performed in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium.

At the three concerts Aksu began her performance with Atakoğlu’s song “Lal” (Rose). She also performed the late musician Onno Tunç’s “Geri Dön” (Come Back) and “Sen Ağlama” (Don’t You Cry), which are among her most famous songs, accompanied by the audience. During the concerts, Aksu commemorated Tunç, who died in a plane accident in 1996 and shared her memories of him.
Among her other songs were “Alaturka,” “Şinanay,” “Hadi Bakalım Kolay Gelsin” (Come On Now), “Belly Rakkas” (Dancer), “El Gibi” (Like a Foreigner), “Istanbul Istanbul Olalı” (Since Istanbul Became Istanbul) and “Kalbim Ege’de Kaldı” (I Left My Heart in the Aegean).

Aksu’s vocalist, Nurcan Eren, whom she invited on stage, provided a magnificent rendition of “Sarışınım” (My Blond) and received a standing ovation from the audience. Throughout the concert nights, Aksu maintained a warm rapport between herself and her fans, telling them how profoundly she appreciated their deep and heartfelt friendship. “I am very happy that I have had this experience.”


TOUCHED ON DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVE AS WELL
 At Carnegie Hall, speaking about Turkey’s democratic initiative, Aksu discussed the country’s Roma citizens, saying, “We don’t have any indication that any human is superior to any other.” With the words eliciting great applause from the audience, she said music and songs always bring people together in peace.

“I thank you all. I hope you will remember me as a nice person after I leave here,” she said. During the concert, Aksu also praised Atakoğlu, who played his own songs. His song, “Sarı Zeybek” (The Yellow Zeybek), was well received by the crowd and drew loud applause.

At the end of the concert, Aksu returned to the stage for an encore and performed two more songs, including “Arkadaş” (Friend), for which she received a long standing ovation. Among the spectators at the concerts in Maryland, New Jersey and New York were Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, and his wife, Lale Apakan, New York Consul General Mehmet Samsar and his wife, Feruze Samsar, as well as actress Meltem Cumbul.

During the concerts, Aksu joked with her band members, especially with the famous composer and her orchestra chief Fahir Atakoglu. Atakoglu says: “In our musical journey, we wrote songs together. Sezen Aksu wrote lyrics to my melodies that have become hits in Turkey and all over Europe. I also wrote arrangements and produced albums for Sezen. In my career I have shared the stage with her many times; and for me every time has been a great honor and a musical privilege to play for her." After the concerts, Sezen Aksu thanked the organizers and met some of her lucky fans backstage. After the first concert in Maryland, Ayse Numan Bageant, one of Sezen Aksu fans from Hawaii, visited Sezen Aksu at backstage and gifted her Hawaiian traditional flowers necklace. Kavus Gokoglu, one of spectators who listened Sezen Aksu in 1983 her first concert in New York, says that listening her was a great pleasure for him and he adds: “After 27 years, I had a great night with her songs.” (Anatolia News Agency)

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