World music: Aynur – the voice of the Kurds

Aynur (photo: Muhsin Akgun)

She is the musical voice of the Kurds: Aynur sings about the life and suffering of the Kurdish people, especially the women. Her songs are based on traditional pieces, which she fuses with stylistic elements of western music, above all jazz. The result is a unique, unmistakable sound that forms a link between the past and the future. Since her appearance in Fatih Akin's documentary Crossing The Bridge – The Sound Of Istanbul, Aynur has become a global star of the world music scene. Her concert launches our new World series.

Aynur vocals and tanbur

Chris Jennings double bass

Patrick Goraguer Drums

Mike Roelofs piano

James Wylie saxophone

Sinan Cem Eroğlu guitar and tanbur

Dates and Tickets



The Kurdish singer Aynur blends traditional folk songs with Western music and is considered one of the most prominent voices of the Kurdish people today. Yet she never dreamed of becoming a musician and performing on international stages. Since she was born in 1975 in a Kurdish village in the Anatolian province of Tunceli, music has been as natural to her as breathing in and breathing out. "Singing was always part of my life, music was part of everyday life in my village," says Aynur, who belongs to the Alevi religious community. Singing and music are closely linked to faith in this culture.

But Aynur only became a musician in the melting pot of Istanbul, where cultures and musical styles from all over the world come together. Here she received professional music training, learned to sing and play instruments such as the long-necked saz. And yet it is her cultural roots from the village that still shape her very own musical style today. This includes the Kurdish language, which was banned in Turkey after the military coup in 1980. Ironically, it was precisely this threat to Kurdish culture that strengthened the singer's bond with her roots.

Aynur sings about identity, love, loss and pain. And about women's rights and the crime of so-called honour killings, as on the CD Keçe Kurdan (Kurdish Girl), which was temporarily banned amid accusations that it supported Kurdish separatism. The title track is a call to women to fight for their rights and assert themselves against male dominance.

Her latest album Hedûr (Finding Comfort) is the result of a musical and spiritual journey in the face of misery and injustice in her native Turkey. In collaboration with the German jazz pianist Franz von Chossy, Aynur combines musical treasures of the past with a language of today. It is her way of finding inner peace.

Aynur has received numerous awards for her reinterpretation of Kurdish folk music, most recently the prestigious Womex Artist Award in 2021.