Tuning up: Derin Togar of Asheville is singing her song

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Derin Togar has really never stopped singing.

As a little 3-year-old, Togar wouldn’t stop singing. Would. Not. Stop. There was so much singing, in fact, that Togar’s mom thought there was something seriously wrong. Turns out there wasn’t anything amiss. The tot just loved to belt out tunes, and that’s pretty much all she’s been doing since.

Now 23, the daughter of a Turkish father (dad owns Togar Rugs on Long Shoals Hendersonville Road) and American mother has spent much of her life bouncing between Asheville and Istanbul, always following her passion for song. At Asheville High School, Togar joined the school’s (now gone) well-known Madrigal Singers and honed her craft. She went on to study opera at Indiana University.

Then she decided she really wanted to be a pop star.

Since that turn, Togar has been making big connections and polishing up songs. She had a single released in Turkey to modest success. And she’s finished up her American album, some of which was recorded at Echo Mountain Studios, and is looking for a major label to pick her up.

Togar’s nothing if not driven. She has plans to build her own recording studio in Asheville, which she plans to make home base for the next couple of years. She’s pursuing her writing and taking guitar lessons. She’s traveled the world, is conversant in French and Italian and fluent in Turkish. Here are a few Q’s and A’s with someone to watch:

Q: When did your singing start talking off?

Here’s a holiday tune Togar recorded at Echo Mountain Studio with piano prodigy Will Newman, a student at Roberson High School here in Asheville.

A: I got involved with Gary Mitchell and the Madrigal Singers at Asheville High School, and it changed my life. He got us to do things we didn’t know we could do. We were young enough that we didn’t know we could sing – we sang in front of 18,000 people. We traveled all over the United States. The repertoire we learned helped me in every single thing I’ve done.

Q: What was next?

A: I moved to Turkey right after college. I was kind of fed up with music a little. Opera was such a tough curriculum. I decided to take some time off, which lasted all of about two months. I started singing jazz in Turkey, then realized there was no future in that. So I started writing my own music, and we would get Turkish people to write lyrics. We put out a single and I got a call from a woman in Asheville who had some connections, and she sent my stuff to Brittany Spear’s manager. I went to New York to make my album, and that was a year and a half ago.

Q: Why are so driven to be a pop singer? What else do you do for fun?

A: I just love singing and I don’t really take no for an answer. I can’t imagine doing anything else. What else do I do? I like to bake. I’m a pastry chef. I dance. I watch tons and tons of movies. I write music. I’m working on playing the piano better and this year, I’m learning the guitar. I love traveling. I’ve been to five continents, but it’s nice to be back in Asheville because it’s where I grew up, and you don’t appreciate it until you leave.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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  1. Tomtom December 15, 2011

    FYI Togar Rugs is located on Long Shoals rd. Not Hendersonville rd.
    Sad that the owners daughter does not know the correct street.

    1. Jason Sandford December 16, 2011

      That’s my mistake, Tomtom. Thanks for your note.

  2. tom December 14, 2011

    yes for public education. music, foreign languages, the arts, oh yeah! and i applaud the ambition of derin. she is a hometown woman and i wish her the best.

  3. Barry Becker December 14, 2011

    She’s not 23, she’s in the 27-29 year old range. Just FYI

    1. Tomtom1234smith December 15, 2011



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