ESC Wish List: Şebnem Ferah
From Greenland, we take a trip to the other distant edge of the Eurovision sphere: Turkey. As I mentioned in my full piece on Turkey in the ESC, I absolutely love it when they turn to rock for their entries. Between maNga, Mor ve Ötesi, and Athena, these songs have not only proven to be major hits in their homeland, but they’ve had pretty strong impact on the Eurovision scoreboard. However, most of these songs have been male-fronted (which, I suppose, is somewhat indicative of the rock scene as a whole…but that’s another issue…), while women in these Turkish songs have been relegated to belly-dancing eye candy or disco-pop divas (not that I’m knocking Sertab Erener, who has had an extensive and highly successful pop career, and gave the Turks their first ESC victory).
And so, I humbly introduce to you, my readers, the incomparable Şebnem Ferah. She released her first solo album, “Kadın (Woman)” in 1996, and has been cranking out stellar rock songs since then. Her style has ranged from soft, traditionally-Turkish-inspired pop to acoustic-guitar-driven alternative to searingly dark hard rock, and she has drawn comparisons to Amy Lee, among others. While it’s tough to wrap one’s arms around such a varied and deep catalog, I’ll hook you all up with a few of my favorite Şebo tunes.
Her first major hit, off of “Kadın”, was “Vazgeçtim Dünyadan (I Grew Tired of the World)“, which followed seamlessly down the angry-girl path that Alanis Morrisette had created the year before, with the release of “Jagged Little Pill”. “Bu Aşk Fazla Sana (This Love is Too Much for You)” soon followed, taking a more pop-forward turn.
Around the time of the release of her second album, “Artık Kısa Cümleler Kuruyorum (I Form Short Sentences Now)”, Ferah was rocked by two personal tragedies. She first lost her older sister to cancer, and in August of 1999, her father was killed in a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that had struck east of Istanbul. Her song “Bügün (Today)” acted as a broken-hearted love letter to those who had left her far too soon.
As time passed, she solidified her reputation as one of Turkey’s top artists with hits like “Sigara (Cigarette)“, “Mayın Tarlası (Minefield)“, “İyi-kötü (Good-Bad)“ and my own personal favorite, “Çakıl Taşları (Pebbles)”:
Şebnem Ferah’s most recent release, “Benim Adım Orman (My Name is Forest)” came out late last year, and it’s a fantastic listen. If you’re into Evanescence at all, give her a shot! As time has passed, and her style has matured, Şebnem’s status as the grand dame of Turkish rock has only become stronger. Her following is huge, and with good reason.
Now, since broadcaster TRT has been selecting candidates internally for Eurovision participation, it seems like rumors have come up every so often that Ferah will carry the Turkish flag for the Contest. So far, however, they have only been rumors, and considering that TRT has been alternating rock and pop over the last few years or so, it might be another little while before we see Şebo. But if she did ever take the leap onto the pan-European stage, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that she’d rock the house (and probably wear something kick-ass to go with it).
Oh, and just as a little bonus, I’ve found a recording of one of her very first gigs as a solo singer…enjoy this little trip back into our collective childhood! (Or mine, at least…)