Sezen Aksu: The Queen Of Turkish Pop

Melissa Pearce

The Turkish pop singer, Sezen Aksu, has had an active career in the music industry since 1975. Having been hailed as “the undisputed queen of contemporary Turkish music” by various publications, she has sold more than 40 million albums and is loved throughout Turkey for her beautiful vocals and often emotional ballads. We look at the career of Sezen Aksu and what makes her the queen of Turkish pop.

Loved by over 40s

During the mid to late 1970s when Sezen Aksu became widely popular, streets in the cities of Turkey were filled with the heartfelt sounds of her powerful yet delicate vocals, which sang of the trials and tribulations of love and life. Often singing about individual cities, Istanbul is a regular feature within Aksu’s music, and this has made her music royalty within the city. Sezen Aksu stands as the first Turkish female artist to both compose and perform her own material, and her eclectic style and varying influences portray her many talents as an artist. She successfully merges Eastern traditional folk and Western popular music, and even some aspects of traditional rock. This has allowed her to communicate her deep emotive lyrics to the world, and her music has become the favourite of millions of all ages.

Sezen Aksu is a resounding icon and a superstar in Turkey and is known not only for her incredible voice, but also for her social activism and engagement. Still active, she collaborated with National Geographic in 2008, singing ‘Dansoz Dunya’ to accompany their video for Earth Day, which showed some truly staggering footage of natural phenomena. One of her contemporaries, the famous Turkish pop singer Sertab Erener, actually began her career in music as a backing singer to Sezen Aksu, which further illustrates the pre-eminence of the ‘queen of Turkish pop’. Aksu still works to promote campaigns supporting charities around the world, particularly those helping to create awareness for undereducated children who have fewer opportunities due to their socio-economic upbringing. In addition to this, she has shown support for ‘Saturday Mothers’, the name given to a group of women who protested every Saturday for over two years to highlight family members and political activists who had been killed or disappeared due to ‘suspicious’ circumstances in Turkey.

The songs of Sezen Aksu have been said to capture the fragility of human emotions, comment on the human condition and elicit profound feelings of love and remorse. Her musical style ranges from upbeat hits to slow and reflective compositions with a more classical nature. She is influenced by a range of styles, including Anatolian folk and Ottoman classical music. She creatively merges all of these influences in an innovative way in order to put herself at the forefront of Turkish popular music. Over her extensive career, she has done countless collaborations with many famous Turkish and internationally-acclaimed musicians such as Goran Bregović, who is both a world-renowned composer and musician. Their work together includes the 1997 album The Wedding and the Funeral, which broadened her international audience, and increased her international fan base.

Sunset over Izmir

The personal life of Sezen Aksu has been turbulent, and her experiences give her lyrics a particular depth, making them ring true. Her past involves love and loss, and the regular appearance of these themes shows how much the Turkish music industry values sincere emotions. Far more than in other global music markets, particularly western music. Aksu was born in Denizli and spent much of her youth in the city of Izmir, which sits on the picturesque Turkish coast, with a bay overlooking the beautiful Aegean Sea. At school Aksu was a student of the arts, studying music, theatre and painting. Musical from a young age, she realised the individual attributes of her voice whilst she was singing in the school choir, and later she began her professional career, composing the song ‘Kaybolan Yıllar’ (Lost Years), which then went to appear on her second album Serçe (Sparrow) (1978).
Considered a lyrical poet by many, her songs often deal with the issue of loneliness, with lyrics from her song ‘Gülümse’ underlining this, in which she sings ‘I’m so lonely, I don’t even have a cat’. It was this 1991 album of the same name that became her best-selling work, and saw her popularity peak. The opening track ‘Hadi Bakalım’ (Come On Now) became an instant hit in Turkey and Europe, and was later released as a single in Germany. Appearing in the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, she became a household name in Turkish pop and has since influenced contemporary music within Turkey. Refusing to abide by any limits, Aksu released a book in 2006 titled Poems to be which is a collection of lyrics from over 400 different works by the artist, ranging from the start of her career to the year of publication. By releasing her song lyrics in print, Aksu allows the public to approach them in a different way, refreshing them and highlighting their accessibility not just as powerful song lyrics but as individual works of poetry. The book underlines her as a unique, cutting-edge musical artist who is continually stepping forward and pushing the limits of popular music.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.