Singer Emine Sarı, who went to Japan a few years ago to receive treatment for blood cancer and decided to stay in the country, is introducing Turkish culture and melodies to the Japanese as a cultural ambassador for Turkey.
Sarı's passion for music began at childhood. Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Sarı, 34, said she had seen the announcements for the "Best Singer of 2008" competition, which is similar to the U.S talent show American Idol, and decided to audition. She said she joined the competition with a Japanese song the previous July, and eliminated her 66 rivals. "90 people joined the finals that took place on Sept. 7 in Osaka. I was in 72nd place and said ’I am a Turk’ after singing my song. I got a flood of applauses in the hall where 2,000 people were," she said.
Speaking about Japanese enka music, Sarı said it was a kind of Turkish folk music and added: "I performed enka music in the competition; it was a big advantage for me. It is a difficult type of music, that's why young Japanese people are not interested in it."
One of 10 best
She said after the competition she had been chosen as one of the 10 best singers in Japan, and became known as a second Barış Manço (the late Turkish artist who was also well-known in Japan). Born in the eastern city of Hatay, Sarı said her father was a Turk and her mother was Chechen, and she lived in the Mediterranean district of Alanya for many years. She said she can speak English, Russian, Japanese, German and Arabic and sing in eight languages.
Sarı said that during her three-month treatment in Japan she found the opportunity to study Japanese music and practice. "My album, which was a present as a result of the competition, was really appreciated by the public and I made two more albums," she said.
She said she also recorded an album of Turkish songs in Turkey, and that she composed some of the songs on the album. "I am working as an honorary cultural ambassador between Turkey and Japan," she said. "I want to establish a culture bridge between Turkey and Japan just like the late Barış Manço. The Japanese love me so much because I am a Turk. I try to promote Turkish art and melodies to them. I want to perform Turkish songs in Japanese and Japanese songs in Turkish in order to make both cultures closer. I am working to take the stage during the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture celebrations."
İskender Türsen, the soloist of Turkish band Grup Tual, said they recorded a joint album with Sarı. He said Sarı had found him through the Internet, and she also had released an album with the famous Japanese group Matsumoto Band.
"There will be songs from this album on our joint album. Sarı has had good music education; she studied at St. Petersburg Conservatory. She has a well-known name in Japan but she is not known in Turkey. I hope this album will benefit her to become known in the country," Türsen said. The album will be released in June.