Here is a special guest blog written by our friends at Ethnic Music, who make Handmade Arabic & Turkish Musical Instruments, based in Izmir, Turkey.

Contrary to common belief, there are many successful women artists in the Turkish and Arabic music scenes. Since the Ottoman Empire era, there have been numerous women musicians, and they are highly respected. In the past, women mainly played Classical Turkish or Arabic music that was listened to in the Ottoman palaces. While women were mainly singers, many female instrumentalists played Qanun, Ney, Riq, and baglama.

With the authentic sounds of eastern instruments combined with the majestic female voice singing in eastern musical scales, these musical pieces send emotional winds of the Middle East to the audience. As it is impossible to reach the recordings of those amazing artists in the past, we will go through some of their descendants who are still contributing to the Turkish and Arabic music world, carrying the heritage they received from the past.

Let’s take a closer look at the female musicians who created this cultural interaction!

Umm Kulthum

Umm Kulthum is one of Egypt’s most popular female singers and the Middle East. Due to the intense love of the people, she was nicknamed the 4th Pyramid of Egypt. Umm, Kulthum had a contralto voice. Her style is based on Arabic music and melodies. The interpretations she made with her voice in the songs were unique. It was impossible to know when a composition would be finished. Her concerts were an event, and people would go wild!

Sezen Aksu

Born and raised in Turkey, Sezen Aksu managed to influence the whole country shortly after her career started.

In addition to her singing, she often came to the fore with her songwriter and composer identity, thanks to the songs she wrote and composed for others. She mostly adopted a mix of pop and classical Turkish music. This helped and influenced various names throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Sezen Aksu, who is very much influenced by the structure of Turkish music, has sold more than 40 million albums around the world.

Müzeyyen Senar

Müzeyyen Senar is one of the most important female artists of Classical Turkish Art Music. So much so that she is called “Diva of the Turkish Republic.” Dealing with stuttering at a young age was influential in the formation of her style. She performed in a wide range of art, ranging from neoclassical works to folk songs and mayas.


The Lebanese-born singer is one of her country’s most popular singers of all time. Fairuz’s work has achieved great popularity in the Arab world and has had significant repercussions in the West. Fairuz had a successful Western tour in 1971 and gave concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York, Albert Hall in London, and Olimpia in Paris. She adopted Classical Arabic Music melodies as her musical style. Fairuz stands out, especially with her tone.

Selda Bağcan

Since the 70s, Selda Bagcan has been one of the most famous Turkish folk music voices in Turkey and recently in the world. Her magical voice and great composing skills are extraordinary, which is the main reason behind her fame.

Also, by implementing political and social criticism into her songs, she became a representative of protest music in Turkey. With the rise of Turkish Psychedelic music in the western world, Bagcan received big fame, and many famous artists and platforms used her songs on different occasions. She is selected in the “Legend and Historical Female Singers Living in World Music” list of Times magazine.

Warda Al-Jazeera

One of the legendary singers of the Arab world, along with Fairuz of Lebanon and Umm Kulthum of Egypt, Warda started singing when she was a little girl and became famous among Arab children in France through her songs broadcast on local radio. In a short time, her fame spread all over the world. Warda’s style developed under the influence of Classical Arabic Music and pop music.

İdil Biret

Biret was 15 years old when she graduated from the Paris National Conservatory with top piano, accompaniment, and chamber music. She has appeared on various World stages since the age of 16. The “Beethoven edition,” released on five continents in December 2008, is the first collective presentation of the composer’s concertos, sonatas, and symphonies.


So, these are just a small portion of countless women carrying the flame they received from older generations. With their music, they still appreciate and show their thankfulness to the Middle East, which amazes everyone with its rich and diverse culture.

All these artists feed on both the Eastern and Western world, unifying them in their songs, and creating perfect harmony. You should take a look at their works to simply get amazed by the sound or better understand the eastern approach.