For years many Turkish Cypriots have felt that appearing on Turkey’s biggest television singing competition was futile. However good the singer, if they were from North Cyprus, they never seemed to have a chance of winning O Ses Türkiye – Turkey’s version of The Voice. This year, Lütfiye Özipek proved Cypriots can succeed after being crowned the winner of the seventh series.
The 27-year-old won in spectacular style, wowing the four judges, Hadise, Murat Boz, Gökhan Özoğuz, and Yıldız Tilbe, the studio audience and viewers at home with her incredible genre-defying vocals. When the show’s presenter and producer Acun Ilıcalı announced that she’d won, it left Turkish Cypriots everywhere beaming with pride, with thousands taking to social media to praise the talented star from Lefkoşa.
Part of rock star Gökhan Özoğuz’s (of Athena fame) team, Lütfiye shone in all three rounds of the final show on Sunday night, her distinctive husky vocals soaring with every song. She opened the night with a rousing rendition of rock song Muhtemel Aşk by Yirmi7 and Gripin’s Birol Namoğlu, popularised by top TV drama Kiralık Aşk in 2015. Her mentor Gökhan, who was the first to turn in the blind auditions pressing his buzzer after just 8 seconds of hearing Lütfiye sing Roxanne, said it had been ‘a long time since I’ve heard such a good rock vocal on the show, especially from a woman’.
Lütfiye changed pace in the second round, displaying tenderness in her sublime delivery of a song by Mehmet Güreli: Kimse Bilmez. She peaked in the third and final round with an outstanding cover of Duyanlara Duymayanlara, putting her own powerful spin on Halil Sezai’s hit ballad. The performance put clear distance between her and the last act standing in the finals, duo Yener Bulut & Ümit Durak who were also being mentored by Gökhan Özoğuz.
Victory on the TV8 reality show on Sunday has propelled Lütfiye firmly into the limelight. She’s enjoyed massive media coverage in Turkey, her native North Cyprus and even South Cyprus, with several Greek Cypriot newspapers also covering her success.
“I want children to learn about pop music”
On Tuesday, she met with TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı and the First Lady Meral Akıncı at the TRNC White House. Posing together for the press, the president said “We were hugely delighted by Lütfiye’s success. The entire public is very proud. My comments reflect the feelings of our society”.
The president expressed his hopes for Lütfiye’s success to continue and that the Presidency would be ready to support her future endeavours. Lütfiye Özipek responded by stating North Cyprus lacked its own Pop music culture, and that she was keen to open an academy specialising in this form of education: “I want children there [in North Cyprus] to learn about pop music. I want to be able to give this type of education, because I have received such an education.”
Who is Lütfiye Özipek?
From a young age, Lütfiye Özipek was destined born to be an artist. She was born in Cyprus in 1990, and learned to play the piano at a young age. She went on to Anadolu Güzel Sanatlar Lisesi (Anadolu Fine Arts High School) in the capital Lefkoşa, before studying music, including Jazz, at the University of Nicosia. She then took a course in songwriting and Pop music in the UK, before returning to North Cyprus in 2013.
Since completing her studies, Lütfiye has regularly performed live across the TRNC, singing a mixture of Jazz, Pop and indie covers and her own songs. To supplement her income, she became a vocal coach, helping to develop upcoming Turkish Cypriot talent. Recently, she had been in Turkey trying to record an album of songs she had written. No doubt that mission will be all the easier and more successful after being crowned champion of this year’s O Ses Türkiye.
Main photo above of TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı and First Lady Meral Akıncı with O Ses Türkiye 2018 winner Lütfiye Özipek, 06 Feb. 2018. Photo © TRNC Presidency