When Selda Bağcan (1948) released her first LP, she already had the reputation for being one of the most politically outspoken singer-songwriters in Turkey. She was known as a protest singer with a powerful, clear voice from the traditional folk area of Anatolia. She has been called the Turkish Bob Dylan and compared to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. In later years, she experimented more and more with rock & roll, electronic sounds and psychedelia, although her style has always remained firmly planted in roots tradition.
Many of her songs carry a sociopolitical message, which made her extremely popular with the left-wing activists during the politically polarised 1970s. After the Turkish coup in 1980, she was persecuted by the military regime and imprisoned three times during this period. Even her passport was taken from her. She couldn’t perform abroad until 1987. After 1987, she performed outside of Turkey on many occasions, building a strong fan base of dedicated fans along the way. She performed at RASA in Utrecht in 1990. Her performances have been rare in recent years. She sometimes plays unannounced acoustic concerts in Turkish teahouses. This changed in 2014, when she was suddenly the headliner of Le Guess Who? festival and performed a sold-out show at TivoliVredenburg. A new generation has since discovered the musical genius of the legendary Selda Bağcan.