Makam Music

EYES ARE THE MIRROR OF THE SOUL

EYES ARE THE MIRROR OF THE SOUL

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He was born in Yoncakaya village of Yayladağ in Antakya in 1948.

His mother is the daughter of a family that migrates from Egypt. His mother was not fluent in Turkish; therefore Selami will be able to learn the language not until he starts school. With aspiration­s to become a singer, he hits the road for Istanbul at an early age. He works as a bellboy and pressman at Şato Hotel in Beyoğlu, Istanbul. At that time the heart and soul of the LPs is at Doğubank in Sirkeci. He finds a job at an LP store at Doğubank at the earliest opportunit­y. His employer, İrfan Özbakır loves his voice, so he sends him off to see Avni Anıl. This is how his singing career begins. He is 16 when his first 45’s is released and 17 when he finds the fame. He has a great voice but has no knowledge of notes. Studying the notes of the songs that he knows, he learns how to read notes on his own. He is awarded the Golden Butterfly Prize for his very first compositio­n, Sen Mevsimler Gibisin Değişirsin Sevgilim in 1969.

He is young, handsome and restless. He has an exciting love life. Women that mark a trace in his life are transforme­d into striking lyrics in his music.

If you want to succeed in singing, firstly you will need that voice and an idiosyncra­tic interpreta­tion.

He falls in love with a girl he meets at Kasımpaşa. The mother of the pretty girl who learns about their affair crosses his path, warns the young artist: "Stay away from my daughter!" Selami Şahin says "I love your daughter, my intentions are good". But the mother will not ease off. "Our daughter will not marry off to an artist. Her brothers and father finish you if they get to hear about this. You don't want to learn it in a hard way here in Kasımpaşa." she says. The lovers never see each other again. After this incident, he composes a hit song, Kasımpaşal­ıyım Eli Maşalıyım.

He falls for another girl before long. They start living in the same flat. They get to know each other and get along very well soon. After a while the woman wants to get married but the young artist says he is not thinking of getting married. The woman says she cannot keep this relationsh­ip. She leaves him. When he wakes up next morning, he calls to his woman as he is used to. But he gets no response. He checks the rooms, goes to the kitchen only to remember that his woman is no longer in his life. So, he composes another hit song Alışmak sevmekten daha zor geliyor/ Alışmak bağrımda bir yara kanıyor / Sen yoksun kollarım boşluğu sarıyor / Alıştım bir tanem alıştım sana.

After his performanc­e at Yenikapı Gar Club, a young girl who wants to take a picture with the young artist catches his eye. Perplexed by her beauty, he asks her name. Her name is Didem. He gives his phone number to her. They start dating. This time it is Didem's father, who says "I have no daughter to marry off to an artist.". Selami Şahin does not give up though. When he goes to Didem's parents' place to seek their blessing for the third time, the father eventually surrenders and approves the young couple’s marriage. The couple gets married. The marriage witness is Zeki Müren, who loves Selami Şahin very much.

He is a beloved artist and has a busy schedule now. One day, after his performanc­e, he comes back home at five in the morning. The couple quarrels because he is late. When he wakes up next day he finds out that Didem is not home. He thinks she is gone for good. Inspired by heavy thoughts, he writes down the following lyrics on a piece of paper he keeps at the bedside: Özledim teninin kokusunu özledim/ Özledim sımsıcak nefesini özledim/ Özledim sohbetini o sesini özledim/ Gelmedin göz bebeğim can yoldaşım gelmedin. He hands the piece of paper to Didem and makes amends to her.

The most special one of his compositio­ns is a tribute to his mother. It goes like this: Sen tanrıdan sonra inan tapılacak kadınsın.

I am only a primary school graduate, I am a self-taught. I learned the notes from the books by myself.

When your mother came to Antakya from Alexandria in

Egypt, she was not a Turkish speaker. You learned the language after you started school. You have a great command of Turkish even though it is not your mother tongue by birth. You wrote amazing lyrics that made a breakthrou­gh in the last five decades. How do you explain the key to your success?

My father, god rest his soul, is from Hatay. My grandfathe­r is the brother in arms with our beloved Atatürk. He spends his life on battlefiel­ds for establishm­ent of the republic. My mother's family, god rest her soul too, comes from Egypt. She could not speak Turkish. My mother has a great voice, ten points for her. And I have only three points inherited from her. I learned Turkish at

8. My teachers at school were telling me that I have a great voice, and I would become a singer one day. I was not even 16 when I left the village after getting my parents' blessing. I remember how they hugged me tightly while crying. I arrived in Istanbul all on my own.

I worked here and there. I believe that one is sure to get a good position if he chooses the right path and good friends, works hard and has a good sense of time. I am only a primary school graduate, I am a selftaught. I learned the notes from the books by myself. I have always treated others in a way that I want others to treat me. I am thankful that I have not exploited anyone. It is unacceptab­le for me. Thank God I had the will and power to work hard. I was blessed with lasting works.

We know that "empathy" means a lot to you. We all read the news and watched the films about the people who wanted to become famous and did actually become famous in the sixties and afterwards. You were one of the thousands of people who hit the roads from Anatolia to Istanbul with a view to being a famous singer. Did you empathize with people who came to the big city for fame but lost it on the way?

Of course I did. But if you don't have the voice, there is no sense in insisting on becoming a singer. If you want to succeed in singing, firstly you will need that voice and an idiosyncra­tic interpreta­tion. Secondly, you need to be creative as a composer and a lyricist. Otherwise any attempt would be in vain. Have your heard of the saying, 'Creativity is immortal'? Nowadays, we see many people with no compositio­n whatsoever. They make one or two albums, which do not get much of an attention. They end up with disappoint­ment.

Your recent album, Baştan Başa Sen, has been long-awaited by hundreds of your fans. You composed and wrote the lyrics for each song on your album. Can you tell us about the preparatio­n process? Who contribute­d to this nice album?

I particular­ly abstain from claiming that I am good at everything. I share my songs with my family, my wife, daughter and two sons first, and with my friends, my press agent and my assistant afterwards. We have been working on this album for three years now. Each piece is delicately worked-on, and has attracted considerab­le attention. Many thanks to all who contribute­d to the album... I am living on the music enthusiast­s' love and dedication. I would sacrifice anything just to make them happy.

When Selahattin Pınar finishes composing his piece, Beni de alın ne olur koynunuza hatıralar, in hisarbusel­ik mode, he says 'This compositio­n has everything I have intended so far.' Which one(s) of your songs reserve(s) a special place in your heart?

I am grateful for each and every one of 380 compositio­ns that I have made so far. I have numerous pieces, for instance Özledim, Alışmak Sevmekten Zor, Seninle Başım Dertte, Ben Sevdalı Sen Belalı, Sensiz Olmuyor, Senin Olmaya Geldim, Gitme Sana Muhtacım and so on... Each one of them are no less dear to me, I love them all. There are nearly 200 pieces

that became hit.

You supported a great number of successful artists. Almost all of them expressed gratitude as you did not deprive them of your knowledge and experience. In this context, what would you advise to the beginners in music?

The term 'work of art' means something that is supposed to be immortal and timeless. They had better not make an album unless they catch on a very good song. The works should be capable of resisting the time. I made the very first compositio­n of my life (Sen Mevsimler Gibisin Değişirsin Sevgilim) in 1969. I composed it and wrote the lyrics of it. It was awarded the Golden Butterfly Prize of the year. It may be easy to get somewhere. What is onerous is to preserve it. They should aim to become timeless and immortal with what they do. The youth is our future. They should try coming up with something new, something that has not been done before. I wish all of them luck and success.

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