Born, raised and based in Berlin, composer and songwriter Defne Şahin has established herself in the international music scene with her unique, cosmopolitan sound that seamlessly blends Jazz, Pop and Turkish music. As the daughter of Turkish immigrants and influenced by her experiences living between New York, Barcelona and Istanbul, Defne Şahin is a shapeshifter who connects multiple worlds and cultures through her music. She sets herself apart with her versatile and eclectic storytelling rooted in her multicultural background, allowing her to effortlessly bridge genres. Her upcoming album Hope (2023) takes listeners on a musical journey through Emily Dickinson’s poems pairing them with her own evocative compositions and lyrics, creating a modern and enchanting song cycle.
Drawing from her experiences as an immigrant woman, Defne Şahin’s music addresses a wide range of emotions and stories by skilfully merging poetry, lyrics and music. In her first album Yaşamak (2011), Defne Şahin sets the poetry of Turkish regime dissident Nâzım Hikmet to music, engaging with his political life and his time in exile. Unravel (2016), which was produced by the highly esteemed pianist and composer Guillermo Klein in New York, is a captivating exploration of her personal life in the Big Apple, conveyed through her evocative compositions, profound lyrics and silky voice. Defne Şahin’s third album Hope (2023) is a deep dialogue with Dickinson’s poetry and reflects on universal themes such as life and death, love and longing, fear and hope and ultimately release. The album was composed under the mentorship of Grammy nominee Becca Stevens.
Since her debut, Defne Şahin has graced jazz stages and festivals around the globe, including Carnegie Hall in New York, JazzFest Berlin, and the TV show "Lebenslieder" by Max Mutzke on Germany’s first national TV channel ARD. She has performed alongside the likes of Elias Stemeseder, Marike van Dijk, Shai Maestro, Guy Mintus, Jay Clayton and Anthony Braxton. Her accomplishments have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards, grants and artist residencies from institutions like the Deutscher Musikrat, Initiative Musik, and the Goethe Institute.
Defne Şahin is also a sought-after vocal coach and has taught at the Universität der Künste in Berlin and the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden. She continues to push the conventional boundaries of jazz as a music educator, guest speaker and jury member of various commissions.