Orhan Gencebay (born August 4, 1944 in Samsun, Turkey as Orhan Kencebay) is a Turkish musician, bağlama virtuoso, composer, singer, arranger, music producer, music director, and actor.
Early life and musical background
Gencebay was born in the coastal town of Samsun on August 4, 1944, to Crimean Tatar.He started learning music at the age of six, taking violin and mandolin lessons from Emin Tarakçı who was an old Classical Musician from the Ukraine Conservatoire. At the age of seven, he started playing the bağlama (a traditional Turkish instrument), and continued taking traditional Turkish folk music lessons. At age ten, he created his first composition. At age 13, he started playing the tambur, an instrument often used in Turkish classical music to improve himself in the theoretical and practical details of Turkish classical music.
During his high school years, he performed in Classical and Traditional Turkish Folk Music groups playing the tambur and baglama, taught music lessons in his own music courses, and took part in organizing community music centers in Istanbul and Samsun.
When he was sixteen, he became interested in jazz and rock music, and started playing tenor saxophone in wind orchestras. He enrolled in the Turkish conservatory in Istanbul, and studied there for four years. During his military service, he played saxophone in the military brass band."Kirim Tatar". Retrieved 2012-11-27. Orhan Gencebay Kırım Tatarı olduğunu açıkladı
At ages 20 and 22, he passed the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) auditions and became a resident bağlama player at the network for several months. In 1966, he got an excellent grade in National Bağlama Contest with Arif Sağ and Cinucen Tanrikorur, two other contemporary masters of Turkish music.
In the late sixties, he collaborated with a wide range of musicians in performances and film music. Between 1966 and 1968, he played bağlama with Arif Sağ in many records with singers such as Muzaffer Akgün, Yıldız Tezcan, Ahmet Sezgin, Şükran Ay, Sabahat Akkiraz, and Nuri Sesigüzel. Gencebay also took part as a music director in many Turkish films such as Ana, Kuyu, Kızılırmak-Karakoyun. He also collaborated with many musicians from different genres, such as Erkin Koray, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Ismet Siral, Burhan Tonguc, Ozer Senay, Vedat Yildirimbora, Neşet Ertaş, Abdullah Nail Baysu. He appeared as a baglama performer and a well-known composer in musical societies, besides releasing several singles in genre of traditional Turkish folk music. In 1968, he released his first "free-style" single "Sensiz Bahar Gecmiyor/Basa Gelen Cekilirmis", and was rewarded. During the 1970s, he released many singles in a new genre that is a fusion of traditional Turkish folk music, Turkish classical music, Western classical music, jazz, rock, country, progressive, psychedelic, Indian, Arabic, Spanish, and Greek music styles. Even though some musical societies such as TRT named that kind of World fusion music recordings Arabesque music, Orhan Gencebay refused the term arabesque, saying it was inadequate to define his style. In 1972, he founded the Kervan Record Company, which became very successful, attracting many other talented musicians such as Erkin Koray, Ajda Pekkan, Muazzez Abaci, Mustafa Sagyasar, Ahmet Ozhan, Kamuran Akkor, Semiha Yanki, Samime Sanay, Neşe Karaböcek, Bedia Akarturk, Nil Burak, Ziya Taskent, Semiramis Pekkan and Ferdi Ozbegen.
Throughout his career, Orhan has performed leading roles in 36 movies, has been a composer almost in 90 movies, composed of about a thousand works, released almost 35 singles, 15 albums, and dozens of MCs. His albums sold out over 65 million legal copies."Erkin Koray". Retrieved 2008-05-13. Erkin Koray met Gencebay in the early seventies. "Omar Faruk Tekbilek Biography". Retrieved 2008-05-13. Omar Faruk’s skills blossomed in Istanbul playing with some of the leading Turkish musicians including Orhan Gencebay Dinççan, M.Vehbi (July 29, 2001). "O Bir Efsane (He is a Legend)". Akşam (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2008-05-13. Yaptığım müziğe Arabesk ismini ben koymadım (I am not the one who named my music arabesque). Akpınar, Hakan (July 16, 2004). "Orhan Baba Efsanesi (The Legend of "Father" Orhan)". Tercüman (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-05-13. Müziğime arabesk denmesi çok saçma. Bu kavram hem yeterli değil, hem de yanlıştır.(It's foolish calling my music as arabesque. That term is not only inadequate, but also it's completely incorrect). Balıkçıoğlu, Tuğba (April 18, 2004). "Mafya babası gibiyim (I am like Godfather)". Sabah (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-05-13. Arabesk deyimi beni tanımlamaya yetmez (Arabesque is not enough to define me). Berköz, Elif (December 12, 2005). "Ne Sazımın Yaşlanmaya Niyeti Var Ne de Benim (Neither my baglama nor me have in mind getting old)". Milliyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2007-03-27. 1000'in üzerinde beste yapmış (He did over a thousand compositions). "Orhan Baba Efsanesi (Legendary Father Orhan)". Tercüman Gazetesi (in Turkish). April 27, 2005. Retrieved 2009-09-17. Yasal olarak 60 milyonun üstünde sattı albümlerim, 65-70 milyon arası galiba. (My albums have sold over 60 million legal copies, probably 65–70 million.) "65 milyon albüm sattı (He has sold 65 million legal copies)". Akşam Gazetesi. April 14, 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-17. Çıkardığım albümlerin resmi satış rakamı 65 milyon. (My albums have sold 65 million legal copies).