Ayten Alpman, singer of ‘Memleketim,' laid to rest in İstanbul

Turkish singer Ayten Alpman, best known for the song “Memleketim,” died on Friday at the age of 82. (Photo: AA)

April 22, 2012, Sunday/ 17:39:00

Turkey on Sunday was bidding its last farewell to singer Ayten Alpman, who died on Friday in İstanbul at the age of 82.

Alpman, a jazz and pop singer who gained fame in the 1970s with the song “Memleketim” (My Country), was laid to rest Sunday afternoon in a funeral attended by her family and friends in İstanbul's Ulus Cemetery following afternoon prayers in the Teşvikiye Mosque, news agencies reported on Sunday.  

Alpman died of respiratory failure late Friday at the Osmanoğlu Hospital in İstanbul's Şişli district, where she had been receiving treatment for pneumonia since last Tuesday.

Messages of condolence poured in over the weekend, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay and several other officials and organizations expressed their grief and offered their condolences.

Born in İstanbul in 1929, Alpman began her singing career during the 1950s. Alpman married jazz pianist and composer İlham Gencer in 1953, with whom she had two children.

Encouraged by Turkish producer Arif Mardin, Alpman turned to jazz singing in the first years of her career. She released her first record, “Sayonara/Passion Flower,” in 1959.

Alpman made her breakthrough in 1974, during the time of the Turkish intervention in Cyprus, when the Turkish arrangement of “L'aveugle” (Blind Man), a late-1960s French song originally sung by Mireille Mathieu, became immensely popular due to its Turkish lyrics penned by Fikret Şeneş. The song, with its lyrics praising Turkey, became a hit in 1974 despite failing to garner popularity when Alpman first released it in 1972.

Alpman rarely entered the recording studio, releasing only two LPs throughout her career. Her latest release was a compilation of her best known singles released by Ada Music in 1999.

Alpman's son, İlhan Gencer, told reporters over the weekend that his mother was always full of life. Alpman, who was continuing her live appearances, had a tough concert last week in İzmir, where she sung 20 songs, Gencer told reporters. Noting that he used to visit his mother regularly, Gencer told the Cihan news agency that they last met in the Tarabya quarter Tuesday afternoon and a few hours later she was hospitalized. “We never thought she was going to die [this way],” he said.

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