"Being invited to Turkey to sing the songs I love with people who are just as passionate about them as me has been the highlight of my musical career."
Already a singer/songwriter in her own right, Paula Darwish became more well known in the early 2000s for her unique and captivating interpretations of Turkish and Kurdish folk songs. As well as being a vocalist, she plays guitar, piano and flute with her own and other groups. After starting her musical life as a protest singer around London and the South East in the late eighties, a chance trip to Turkey in 1992 led to a gradual change of direction. She studied Turkish Language and Literature with Middle Eastern History at SOAS (London) and Boğaziçi University (Istanbul) from 1993 to 1997. Her growing passion for the the old folk music of the Anatolia region led to the founding of the Country & Eastern band in Manchester in 2002. The band combined elements of Turkish and later Kurdish folk with electric instruments and western grooves. The idea of the band was to fuse musical styles and mix the familiar with the unknown to bring new sounds to UK audiences who wouldn’t necessarily listen to “world music”. She was a prolific performer in Manchester for many years, especially at the Iguana Bar in Chorlton, preferring standard music venues in pubs and clubs to the more exclusive arts venues generally associated with the genre.
Her first release was with the Berlin-based Oriental Media label in 2006. This was followed by some EPs and an album on her own Purple Sheep label in 2009. Meanwhile, interest generated by internet exposure led to some tours in Turkey and Europe from 2009 onwards.
Since the Country and Eastern Band parted ways in 2010, she has continued performing Anatolian folk in smaller acoustic groups, mainly with bağlama player Serpil Kılıç and percussion player Adam Warne. Sadly Adam passed away in 2017. Paula Darwish and Serpil Kılıç still perform together. Darwish is also involved in a number of different music projects including electronic music with the United Nomads of Dance, feminist folk-punk with Poppycock and an international project to translate children’s lullabies.
She is of Arab/English heritage and was born in West Yorkshire.
Please see projects for more details of Paula Darwish’s work.