Selda Bağcan’s journey as a professional musician began in 1971 when she was in her final year at the university. Her talent was recognized by the Ankara-based music producer Erkan Özerman who encouraged and supported her to release her first six singles. These songs featured her strong, emotional voice accompanied by a simple acoustic guitar or ‘bağlama,’ and quickly propelled her to national fame in Turkey.
The following year, Selda was selected by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to represent Turkey in the international Golden Orpheus song contest. She released twelve more singles and three LP records until 1980 and toured many cities in Turkey and western Europe. Throughout her career, she remained rooted in the folk tradition of her country while experimenting with rock and roll and synthetic and electronic sounds in her LPs.
OUR FAVORITE TURKISH MUSICIAN
Selda Bağcan’s songs often carried strong social criticism and solidarity with the poor and working class, which made her especially popular among left-wing activists and sympathizers during the politically polarized 1970s. However, after the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, Selda was persecuted by the military rulers due to her political songs, and was imprisoned three times between 1981 and 1984. Her passport was confiscated and held by the authorities until 1987, which prevented her from attending the first WOMAD Reading festival in 1986.
Despite the hardships, Selda Bağcan remained steadfast in her beliefs and continued to use her music as a form of resistance against oppression. Partly thanks to pressure from WOMAD, her passport was returned in 1987, and she immediately started a European tour, giving concerts in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the same year. Her unwavering spirit and commitment to social justice have made her an inspiration to generations of artists and activists in Turkey and beyond.
Today, Selda Bağcan’s music continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, transcending language and cultural barriers. Her unique voice and unwavering commitment to justice and equality have secured her place as one of the most iconic figures in Turkish music history.
HER INFLUENCE OVERSEAS
It’s worth noting that Selda Bağcan’s influence extends beyond the world of music. One of her biggest fans is none other than Elijah Wood, the actor who played Frodo Baggins in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Wood has spoken publicly about his love for Bağcan’s music, saying that he first discovered her work while filming in Turkey and was immediately struck by her powerful voice and the emotional depth of her songs. In fact, Wood is such a devoted fan that he even named his record label, Simian Records, after one of Bağcan’s songs.
Bağcan’s impact on music and culture is undeniable, and it’s clear that her legacy will continue to inspire artists and audiences for generations to come.
And here’s the original version of the track:
Unauthorized plagiarism of her work
Mos Def, the American rapper, actor, and activist, has been accused of unauthorized plagiarism of Selda Bağcan’s music in his 2009 album “The Ecstatic.” Bağcan’s song “İnce İnce” was sampled in Mos Def’s track “Supermagic” without her permission or proper attribution.
Bağcan’s daughter, Deniz Özçelik, called out Mos Def on social media, pointing out that the rapper had used her mother’s music without giving credit or paying royalties. She also highlighted the importance of recognizing and respecting the work of artists who have been influential in shaping music history.
This incident raised important questions about cultural appropriation, intellectual property, and the exploitation of artists’ work. Selda Bağcan’s music has been a source of inspiration for many musicians around the world, and her contributions to Turkish music are invaluable. It is crucial to acknowledge and honor her legacy, as well as to ensure that artists receive proper recognition and compensation for their creative work.