Being able to get in touch with Rüçhan Çamay felt like taking a precious gem out of its box into daylight after many years. This gem was born in May 1931 in İstanbul. Her music teacher, the well-known tango singer Celal İnce, was the first person to discover her vocal talent. Çamay studied piano and singing at the Ankara Conservatoire. Listening to Sevim and Sevinç Tevs sisters sing, and Ella Fitzgerald perform extraordinary renditions on Ankara Radio, she started to develop an interest in jazz. Even though it was prohibited at the conservatoire she gravitated towards jazz. She was seventeen years old when she began to sing jazz at Ankara Radio. In the summer of 1947 she started to perform at Taksim Municipality Casino. On stage she was a Belgian by the name of Şantöz Delisyö, or Şantöz Ruşan. She reached stardom. Yet soon she was disclosed as a Turk and continued her career as an orchestra singer. In 1950 she had a regular jazz programme at the recently established İstanbul Radio. She travelled to New York in 1952 upon an invitation by American arts agent William Morris and started working there. Love prevailed and she came back to İstanbul to marry director-producer Turgut Demirağ. At the end of the 1960s the trend in pop music was songs with Turkish lyrics. With the urge of Fecri Ebcioğlu (just as in Ayten Alpman's case), she recorded a song by him, "Gölgen Yeter Bana". She released another 45, "Para Para Para" composed by Şanar Yurdatapan, her daughter's (Melike Demirağ) husband. This single was one of the most popular and best-selling records of the time. Unfortunately she did not have much opportunity to practice jazz. But more importantly, this very special artist was slowly drifting away from music. She had other priorities in her life, and yet jazz is like a virus. In Rüçhan Çamay's own words: "Jazz was beautiful. My delightful days of jazz and my memories... I will always keep them alive."

Hülya Tunçağ