One of the best known contemporary Kurdish singers, Aynur Doğan takes to the stage at London’s Barbican this weekend as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.
Originally from Turkey, Aynur’s impressive voice and extraordinary musical narration represent the music heritage of her cultural roots to the world.
The Amsterdam-based singer has collaborated with a wide range of acclaimed artists in her twenty year career, including Yo-Yo Ma, Kayhan Kalhor, Javier Limón, Kinan Azmeh and the NDR Big Band. She has also appeared in several documentaries, including Fatih Akın’s acclaimed Crossing the Bridge / The Sound of Istanbul and Morgan Neville’s documentary about Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, The Music of Strangers.
Earlier this year, the Kurdish singer-songwriter received the WOMEX 21 Artist Award for maintaining the “highest artistic integrity in the face of political pressure.” The prestigious international award, first introduced in 1999 to acknowledge the social and political importance of musical excellence at an international level, recognised Aynur’s “long-term dedication to the preservation and innovation” of Kurdish and Alevi culture.
Aynur was forced to leave her native Turkey in 2012 after receiving multiple death threats for singing in Kurdish and seeking to use her platform to draw attention to significant social issues, including women’s and minority rights. However, the 46-year-old singer, who was born in the small mountain town of Çemişgezek in Tunceli (Dersim) Province, sees her primary life mission to preserve and promote her Kurdish Alevi culture.
In a recent interview with Songlines Magazine, Aynur said: “Singing in Kurdish is a way of bringing our history or our culture from the past to the future, for the next generation. I am trying to maintain this bridge,” adding, “It is necessary for humanity. Some of these songs are at least 300 years old. It is important that they are liked by the next generations.”
Last year, Aynur released her seventh studio album, Hêdur: Solace of Time, in the middle of the pandemic. This stunning album is finally getting its live rendition in 2021: after a series of festival performances this year, Aynur takes the album on a mini European tour with dates in Germany and her new adopted home of the Netherlands, with London the first stop.
Aynur is supported by Melisa Yıldırım, a multi-award-winning kemençe (spiked fiddle) player and composer, who opens the concert with a solo set full of rich melodies, maqam improvisations and hypnotic timbre.
Title: Aynur + Melisa Yildirim Part of the EFG London Jazz Festival
Date: Sunday 14th November
Time: concert starts 7.30 pm
Venue: Barbican Centre Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
Admission: tickets are priced £25 to £32.50 (plus a £3.00 fee). Tickets available from the venue – click here.
More info on Aynur: click here for the artist’s website