Turkish Daily News
Don't mess with Texas' Muslim music Foreign musicians' converting to Islam is hardly novel – Cat Stevens famously became Yusuf Islam of course. But Texans converting and singing Islamic verses in Turkish? Such an innovation was on stage Wednesday night at a concert performed at Topkapı Culture Park. DEBU, a family of musicians originating from Texas, who currently live in Indonesia, sang in Turkish during a concert organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, or IBB. “They don't actually speak Turkish but their lyrics are written in Turkish.
Mustafa, our vocalist tries to do his best when singing and I help him with his pronunciation,” said the group's manager, Haldun Dursunoğlu, who is also a journalist for daily Zaman. DEBU's vocalist Mustafa Davood, 27, says he grew up listening to Turkish songs. “My parents lived in Turkey and Iran before they converted to Islam. They liked the music from this region, so I grew up listening to Turkish music, I listened a lot of Ibrahim Tatlıses even without understanding the lyrics.” DEBU, which means sand and storm in Indonesian, was formed in 2001. With ages ranging from 20 - 39, they like to call themselves “a big family”. It is a crowded group with 18 members playing Middle Eastern strings, flutes, violins, an Irish harp, santur, flamenco guitar, baglama, tambura, oud, dumbek and some Indonesian instruments. Mustafa says he has been living in Indonesia since 1999, after their father Shayk Fattaah converted to Islam. “One night in his dream he was told to go to Indonesia and that is how we went there,” says Mustafa. Shayk Fattah is also the writer for DEBU's lyrics. “He speaks nine languages, Turkish is only one of them.” explains Mustafa. So how is it for an American kid to be raised as a Muslim in the U.S.? “We lived up in the mountains in Oregon.
When I was 13, I was training people's horses. I didn't really feel that I was in the U.S.,” he says. Then we moved to Dominican Republic and Indonesia. So I moved around quite a lot.” DEBU members are very religious but still look kind of hippy. How do those two things go together? “We are not that different. It just looks like it is different in this age. We don't agree with a lot of stuff about the politics of religion. Religion is supposed to make you better. We recognize that the whole creation is about love. That is what our songs are about.” Mustafa says. This is not DEBU's first visit to Turkey. Apparently, the group even has an album in Turkish called "Hep Beraber," meaning altogether. Their other albums are in Indonesian. They also have songs in English but it seems like their target audience is not their homeland. “We haven't performed yet in the U.S.,” says Mustafa's sister, Naseem who is also in the band. “But we might go there,” says Mustafa “The political situation is very complex now.” When asked what he thinks about the upcoming elections Mustafa says he is not interested in politics. “I just hear it from friends'` he says. For those computer savvy enough to navigate around a Turkish government ban on YouTube (for advice: hidemyass.com) one can also watch DEBU's music videos online. From the audience comments, it seems like they have a variety of sympathizers on other blogs as well, “I am proud of my Turkish as it is an inspiration for such people,” says one blogger. “The music is not that great but they are a sweet group, kind of like the spice girls. And they sing in Turkish, what else does a white Turk wants?” says another one, identifying himself as scissorsandhands. The concert was held by IBB as part of 500 activities organized for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Concerts are held in three key locations; Feshane in Eyüp district, Bağlarbaşı Cultural Center and the newly opened Topkapı Culture Park.
DEBU will perform twice more; they have a concert in Feshane Sept. 6 and another one in Bağlarbaşı Culture Park on the 13th of the month.