Ajda the Turkish Queen is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and voice teacher operating out of the Boston area since 1996, though she is originally from Houston, Texas. A founder of original music bands such as Black Fortress of Opium, Turkish Queen, and the Ronnie James Dio tribute AjDIO, her current focus is with her group Ajda the Turkish Queen Band.
Whether performing solo or as part of a band or ensemble, Ajda has appeared on bills with acts such as The Dresden Dolls, Franz Ferdinand, Thalia Zedek, His Name is Alive & Serena Maneesh (4AD), The Fiery Furnaces, Andrew Bird, Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart), Bill Laswell, John Zorn, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and many more.
She has been a collaborator in numerous groups of various styles such as alternative rock, indie/experimental, goth, metal, jazz, blues, gospel, cabaret, and psychedelic pop. She has performed extensively in a live setting from clubs to galleries to churches and beyond for over 20 years, including touring nationally. Ajda's recorded output includes several recordings of her original material, as well as with artists and composers of diverse styles. She has also contributed to soundtracks for various independent films.
Ajda began her lifelong love affair with music as a child, performing as Judy Garland singing a love song to Clark Gable in a Texas public elementary school show. In middle school, she began playing and formally studying the flute, which she continued in high school as a part of marching and concert band, all the way through to graduation from Berklee College of Music and beyond to the current day. As a teenager, Ajda began playing her father's classical guitar that had been living in a back closet and a tenor banjo some kind soul donated to her high school, aiding her nascent attempts at songwriting. She later additionally gravitated towards the mandolin and keyboards, and became more serious about voice.
A curious nature and unconventional approach to writing and playing music initially led Ajda to experimental improvisation and a desire to collect an arsenal of numerous instruments that would afford her inspiration with each new sound, tone, texture, and timbre. Many of her instruments were gifts, or somehow randomly appeared in her life. For a few years preceding and following her time at Berklee, she was more of a side person in groups, adding whatever auxiliary instrumentation was needed, but eventually the need to write, perform, and record her own material and song ideas compelled her to step out as a front woman.
Ajda's serious foray into vocal performance began in 2002 through her involvement with the independent film Neovoxer by director Michael Pope, who later went on to work with The Dresden Dolls. Ajda provided vocals during a live screening of Neovoxer, as part of a large ensemble of musicians accompanying the silent film. This momentous event - which brought together musicians, a filmmaker, living statue performers, and other freaks of the Boston arts scene - helped Ajda realize her true calling. For her, vocalizing serves as a very direct method of expression - straight from the soul. She has been inspired by the vocals of such artists as Little Jimmy Scott, Natacha Atlas, Elizabeth Fraser, PJ Harvey, Ronnie James Dio, Nico, Ute Lemper, Siouxsie Sioux, Ella Fitzgerald, Kristin Hersh, and more, as well as the lonesome voices of Turkish muezzins.
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