Welcome Home. We are ALL One.

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It’s an honor to be featured in Deepak Chopra's new album & book: Home | Where Everyone is Welcome. I perform the ud on the track "Candle" inspired by Kahlil Gibran, who moved to America from the Middle East and, is a widely celebrated poet and scholar. Like Kahlil Gibran I came to the US from the Middle East, more specifically Turkey. I arrived in Boston in the late August of 1993 – at the time I was 18 years old – to study at Berklee College of Music.

Both of my parents were Turkish Cypriots who moved to Bursa, Turkey in 1975. My mother was a respected Western classical piano teacher and my father was a medical doctor who was a huge admirer of opera and Western choral music. While both of my parents were ethnically Turkish since they grew up on the island of Cyprus under the British, their cultural upbringing was more Western when compared to a lot of their colleagues in Bursa at the time. As a result, I was brought up as a secular Muslim, and in our house Western musics were far more admired than any kind of Turkish music. As a result, eventually, I came to play in progressive Rock bands as a teenager, which led to discovering Jazz and wanting to go and study at Berklee.

When I arrived in Boston I was a talented pianist who wanted to become a respected composer. During the past 24 years I certainly chased that dream relentlessly but, little did I know that there was going to be a major discovery in my life 7 years after I arrived in the US: I actually discovered Turkish music in the US! Shortly after entering 2000, completely by accident, I came to discover the beauty of the music and traditions of where I come from… I suppose as I entered the United States, I willingly left my Turkish cultural identity behind and immersed myself in Jazz but, I later found myself slowly ‘traveling’ back home; going back to my origins in a mosaic process of forging a more complete version of myself. I know for a fact that many immigrants go through a similar process.

In the end, had I stayed back in Turkey I would most likely have never been able to reconstruct my identity as I did between 2001-2011 here in the US. The distance and the freedom to explore were what enabled this transformation. Today, I am proud to call myself a Turkish-American man.
Finally, here is a picture (four years after my arrival in Boston) from my Berklee graduation with my mother. My mother always believed in me and, for that I can never thank her enough