Defne Şahin


To live like a tree alone and free,
and like a forest in brotherhood and sisterhood,
this longing is ours.

Nâzım Hikmet’s words are brought to life by Defne Şahin’s music – sometimes at the lapping sea, sometimes in the woods, sometimes among the stars, but also in prison, where Hikmet spent sixteen years of his life for being a dissident. In her debut project, Defne Şahin put poems by this great Turkish poet to music.

The New York based singer with Turkish roots was particularly intrigued by Hikmet’s idea of freedom and his closeness to nature. Her songs are influenced by Jazz, Pop, and Mediterranean sounds and rhythms. They create a distinctive world of sound that infuses Hikmet’s verses with new life.

Tino Derado (piano), also appearing with Rebekka Bakken and Rigmor Gustafsson, Simon Quinn (double bass), who performed with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Bill Carrothers and Martin Krümmling (drums), a semifinalist of the Thelonious Monk Competition, are sought-after musicians in the Berlin Jazz scene and contribute their personal styles to Defne Şahin’s pieces. Together they have toured in jazz clubs, major concert halls and festivals all over Germany and were granted a sponsorship by the Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Foreign Office to tour in Turkey.

In 2010, the band received the Berlin Senate’s Studio Award for World and Pop Music.

The album Yaşamak was released in 2011 (Double Moon Records) as part of the Next Generation series of Germany’s well-known jazz magazine Jazz Thing and Turkey’s leading independent label for world and jazz music Kalan Müzik in 2012.

Yaşamak (to live) is as free as Nâzım Hikmet’s words, always in search of vastness, merging the young singer’s Turkish roots with the sound of Jazz and was dubbed “the beginning of a successful career“ – Jazzthetik.

“These are beautiful stories, which Defne Şahin sings in Turkish, poems by Nâzım Hikmet set to music. Her clear voice and this beautiful language enchant. Together with the intertwined harmonies and melodies and the repeatedly surprising grooves, they create a separate world for each piece that takes me on a journey even though I do not understand the language. Wonderful how fast a musician and her music can grow!”

Julia Hülsmann