pic: tahir palali / source: asphalt-tango.de

Çiğdem Aslan is a musician and singer of Kurdish-Alevi descent based in London. She is regarded as a symbol of contemporary rebetiko. Her music also contains elements of the folk music of Asia Minor, of Greece, the Balkans, and klezmer. She sings her songs in various languages such as Turkish, Kurdish, Greek, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Romani and Ladino.

The daughter of Kurdish parents from the Alevi community, Çiğdem Aslan was born in Istanbul’s Şişli district, not far from Taksim Square, in 1980. She grew up in a household full of music, exposed to it from a very early age. She studied English literature at the University of Istanbul, and performed folk songs in different languages of Turkey as part of a project to highlight Anatolia’s minority cultures. In 2003 she went to London to study music at Goldsmiths, University of London. During her studies, Çiğdem began performing with local groups such as the Balkan band Dunav formed in 1964 and the award-winning She'koyokh Klezmer Ensemble. She has also worked with songwriter Tahir Palalı, whose Anatolian folk songs she has performed again and again.

Her first solo album “Mortissa” was released in 2013 on the independent label Asphalt Tango Records of Berlin. The album was internationally acclaimed and in 2014 garnered the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award). In early 2016, she performed in a refugee camp in Calais, singing songs from the homeland of the refugees, with some of those songs appearing on her second album “A Thousand Cranes” released that same year.

Çiğdem Aslan is in demand as a live musician. She has performed in innumerable concerts in clubs and at festivals, and tours on a regular basis.





Text: Robert Lippuner / Global Music Network

Translation: Jamie Davies








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