Saturday, May 16, 2009

Marko Melkon

Marko Melkon, whose original name was Melkon Alemsherian, was born in Izmir, then known as Smyrna, Turkey on May 2, 1895 to Armenia parents.
At seventeen, he was supposed to fulfill his military service however, he fled to Athens, Greece where he played his oud, a lute-like instrument. There he played in taverns and coffee houses. Being from Izmir, he spoke and sang Greek fluently. In 1921, he left for the United States together with his musician friend, Achilles Poulos. He immediately found employment playing in coffee houses and soon found himself, much to his own surprise, with "pockets of money." With this unexpected wealth, he was able to help his parents leave Turkey immediately after the Turkish war of Independence. By playing in cabarets in Boston and other cities of the East Coast, Melkon became quite famous.
Marko Melkon is one of the most beloved cabaret musicians of New York's 8th Avenue middle eastern club scene of the 1950's. He performed at virtually all of the Middle Eastern clubs throughout the country including Club Khyam, the Britania, Port Said and Egyptian Gardens. His recordings on Kaliphon and Me-Re Records became household items for every Armenian and Greek family.
His popularity increased in the forties with a series of records and his first record, Oglan, Oglan was a hit throughout the country. His music has lived after his death in 1962 on in recordings.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blog post! Thank you for reminding us of the artistic tradition and legacy from Izmir. Even after 80 years, the impact is prevelant in the success of many Greek and Turkish musicians and singers.

    I hope that Izmir will flourish again in the arts as it did in Ottoman times...


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