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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Karsu Dönmez

Karsu DönmezKarsu Dönmez, born on the 19th of April, 1990 is a Turkish-Dutch Jazz, blues and pop singer-songwriter from Amsterdam. She was named after the village of Karsu in the Turkish province of Hatay.

While her music style is a blend of various genres, jazz pop is probably the best description that fits. At age 7 her parents bought a piano with money they had put aside for buying a car. At 14 she was making a name for herself by performing at 'Grand café Du Lac', her uncles' restaurant.

She later came to prominence after performances at Carnegie Hall in New York and several appearances on Dutch television. In 2010 Karsu's first album 'Live on' T IJ 'is a CD with only live songs and is actually still a mix of all kinds of styles.

That's because at the time she wasn't sure what her style really was - what she liked best. This album on the other hand is a real jazz album and the songs are recorded in the studio.

"It's also nice to know that I went to Paris with a group of girls for my cover shoot for the CD. With a trunk full of designer clothing and Haute Couture, we drove through Paris to take the photos. ”

'Live on' T IJ ' was released in October 2012, then her first studio album, Confession, followed, and was received positively by the press.

Karsu DönmezOn Colors, an album from 2015, her compositions are more playful and cheerful than in her previous work. The title of the album refers to Karsu's bi-cultural background with roots in both Turkey and the Netherlands.

In 2016 the Edison Foundation gave her the Edison Award for Colors. She built a music school for refugees in Athens, Greece and she also took on the role as a director for helping refugees in Amsterdam.

Her life was documented by director Mercedes Stalenhoef who follows Karsu as she climbs the ladder from being a waitress in the family restaurant to performing on the stage at Carnegie Hall, and further into the music world.

It all started a long time ago, at the age of seventeen. Mercedes Stalenhoef (the director) heard Karsu sing in her parents' restaurant. She asked Karsu if she could make a documentary about her and if she could follow her in the coming months - and eventually years. The film "Karsu" can be found in various cinemas from November 17.

"After much consultation with my parents, we decided I should do it. Her film crew followed me for five years and you saw me grow in front of the camera."

"It has been quite a birth, because sometimes they were already at my door at seven o'clock in the morning, but I am glad that it all worked out in the end. I think it is really a great honor that she chose me."

Karsu Dönmez'What you see is how it all works, how I work in the middle of the night to write out a song and how I work it out with the band. Everything is recorded and the process is very nice to see."

“I am most thankful for all the people who come to my performances to listen to my music. I find it so special that someone would want to pay money to see me."

"I am very happy with my fans because they really support me. Some of these people have been following me for so long and yet they still come to watch performances - that is really the thing I have that I am most grateful for."

“The best memory I have was during my previous tour this summer with Ricciotti, an orchestra of about 45 youngsters my age. The goal was to play for people who actually can't go to concerts, such as orphans, vagrants, addicts and people in prison."

"After a tour in the Netherlands for a week and a half we went to Turkey. It was so bizarre to see, because those people have nothing at all."

"The orphans in particular were very impressive and made me emotional. When you hear: 'Take me with you, take me with you!' then that really does something to you. It was really nice to do something like that."

“After working in a lot of different cultures, with different foods and hopes for other things that I am used to, it is always nice to relax.

Then I always go to my friends or to my nieces and girlfriends. Just chat about new nail polish or earrings and forget about my career."

Karsu Dönmez"It is not just an office job, you are not just ready at five. You get up with it and go to sleep with it, so it's nice to just not talk about it at all on occasion."

“The judgments you sometimes get are sometimes tricky. Everyone always has an opinion about you - even if it is only just about your hair - One person says let it go while the another likes to see it fixed. At one point I was completely crazy because I was afraid of not doing anything right."

Fortunately, I have always managed to get something positive out of all the negative things I have experienced. I learned from this again and so I came out stronger. "

"Sometimes I can be very impatient and I'm not a morning person at all, but most people can identify with that. What I can really get addicted to are iPhone games, so I can completely lose myself in them."

"What is also very funny is that every now and then I have a period where I am completely addicted to a certain type of vegetable. For example, in my maize period I eat corn or spinach every day during that period.

A bit of a strange habit, but then I can really eat spinach every morning, afternoon and evening! If someone asks me what I ate, I hardly dare say it!"

“I would say to other girls to go for it if you really want to achieve your goal, but it is very hard work. Keep your most loved people around you and with their support you can get very far.

Karsu DönmezSometimes you will get through it, but your parents will help you through it. You need them and working with them is hard work. Yet it is also important to just have fun. Go on vacation and enjoy life!

"My music career and touring is the best job ever. You achieve a lot and you travel a lot. I really love traveling, I never was aware of that before, but I love to visit other countries. So, I really hope I can keep this up for years, because this is really my passion."

Karsu will soon start its second Dutch tour. You can find more information on her website . For her songs and clips you can also take a look at her YouTube channel . She can now also be found on Twitter & Facebook .

Born in 1990, Karsu studied classical music until the age of 14. Karsu had her first stage experience in her father's restaurant, Kilim, where she was a waitress in thier Amsterdam restaurant. Her life changed step by step after winning first place in a Dutch competition.

Karsu describes herself as a jazz artist, but her music is a mix of jazz, blues, funk and ethnic music. As a pianist, composer, arranger and songwriter, Karsu has her own compositions and her album sales are going well.

She has performed three times on one of the most prestigious stages in the world at Carnegie Hall in New York City and has also performed in many other cities of the world.

Karsu Dönmez"It is interesting that your Dutch fans are more than just Turkish expats." Karsu is not very fluent in Turkish, but she can still get her points across. "Of course, the Dutch people like my music, but the Turks in the Netherlands seem to discover me when I go on a Turkish television station as most of them are just watching the Turkish channels.

"I gave a few concerts in Turkey - maybe 50, but also another 200 concerts around the world, I think. 750 people came to my first concert in the Netherlands."

"Frankly, I didn't expect that many either. My most crowded concert took place at a festival in the Netherlands where I went on stage - I think there were 140,000 people attending that one".

Karsu is an example among the young exhibiting the integration of expat Turks in the culture of the Netherlands. Her fans in Holland include former Dutch Queen Beatrix's daughters. How does that make you feel?

"Yeah, they're following my music and it's nice tthat they come to my concerts, but I don't know if I'm the symbol of integration. I am proud to show an example, but I do not like to say 'I am like this'. Instead of talking, I do my work, my music."

"The goal is to get the best from Turkey and the Netherlands to become the world of human culture and combine them. I never dreamed of this success. Let it continue - super; step by step. I'm happy with very little things."

"But, my main goal is to make beautiful music and if I become a star, I would like to use this popularity in social responsibility projects. For example; I'm trying to help Syrian refugees right now. Four weeks ago I opened my own school in a refugee camp in Athens."

Karsu Dönmez"It is called 'Happy Caravan'. We give music and English lessons to refugee children. I want to be known and popular for this; To help people, to make the world more beautiful place."

"This project is not a part of another organization. I do it myself. It's a charity thing I do on my own. I have a Syrian friend Alaa, we work with her.

We had 30 students between the ages of 6-16 in four weeks. Some children are illiterate because they were born in the midst of a war. We have volunteer friends and they teach them."

What was the starting point of the idea of helping the Syrian children?

"We are all watching the war in Syria and it makes you want to do something. When the Syrian migration to Europe started, my friends and I were at the train station in Amsterdam; We welcomed the children who came to Europe alone and who had lost their parents."

"There were children who could not speak at all. I met with those children every night for three months. Later, with my Syrian friend Alaa, we opened this school to help children that were in a refugee camp in Athens."

What did you notice most about those children?

"They had suffered tremendous pain, most of them had lost their families, and have been through a major trauma. We progress slowly in education, most of them are illiterate."

Karsu Dönmez"We're doing film screenings, and we're going to get a psychologist to supportus. Those kids didn't have anything to do in the camp until we arrived. But, things changed when we opened the school. A girl, for example, learned the entire English alphabet in two weeks.

I think that's what it's like to do good things with artist popularity.

"When you personally reach the goal of your own life a little, you have to give something back to young people, the elderly, children and nature. That's why I opened a school for refugees."

"Because I was a lucky kid, I had every opportunity, I had a good education, I had good experiences and I became a musician. I have achieved my goals, I am very happy, my health is good, the people next to me are happy."

"Now I think I should help people. If we spend 10 percent of our time doing something good, helping other people - the world will be a better place."

What do you say to Europeans not wanting Syrian immigrants?

"In every country, there are those who do, and those who do not. For example, in the Netherlands, people around me want, they think positively about refugees. I don't want to comment on political issues, so I do what I can for the immigrants."

Karsu DönmezYes, why don't they take more refugees, we need to ask them; I wish they could accept more refugees.

For example, there are 3 million refugees in Turkey. (actually 6 million currently)

Yes, 3 million! Do you know what 3 million people mean? It's a great job for them to camp and take care of them. I very much respect the Turks who help the Syrian refugees. 3 million people! An incredible figure. (actually 6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey currently)

For those who read this page and wonder why she did not open the school in Turkey?

"The school was born in Athens due to an opportunity and we did it because it is important to help people. In the future we can open in Turkey, why not?

The last question is about the music. Will there be a change in your style?

The new album will be a little electronic pop, R&B and hip-hop. I'm gonna try new things.


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