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The Black Train

The Black Train is a metamorphosis for migration, separation and being far away from home for the inhabitants of the Anatolian steppes, for the rural population of Turkey. “The Black Train” is also an “uzun hava”, a traditional song chanted in the slow blues style from a small train station called Cürek in the province of Sivas, in deepest Anatolia; a station on the Istanbul - Kars Trans-Turkey railway. “Kara Tren” / “The Black Train” is one of the songs which brought national and international popularity and stardom to folk singer Sabahat Akkiraz. Officially, her album “İnsana Muhabbet” which was released in 1984 and which included this track, was sold over 2 million times!

When accompanying Sabahat Akkiraz in various villages in the Sivas area, and at rural music festivals where she performed, the team of “The Background Music of Our Lives” realised that folk music in Turkey is by no means a nostalgic thing of the past. And according to ethnomusicologist Ulaş Özdemir, Sabahat Akkiraz is one of the best female interpreters of Turkish folk music today.

This episode is also an ode to Turkey’s multi-ethnical sound. The film features religious Alevi spirituals, Middle Anatolian ballads, Black Sea songs, Kurdish dance music alongside key folk music musicianslike Yavuz Top, Arif Sağ, and Turkey’s most significant living folk poet Neşet Ertaş.


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