These Ukrainian Musicians Are Standing Up For Their Home Country.

Nearly a month since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, musicians continue to release music and perform benefit concerts to raise money for those in need.

It’s been nearly a month since Russian troops invaded Ukraine and people from all over the world have been helping in any way they can. Musicians, in particular, have released music and performed benefit concerts to raise money to be donated to civilians in need of help trapped in the now war-torn cities across the country. Now, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, many of the nation’s most beloved musicians have returned home to fight on the front lines.

In a speech broadcast live from a bunker in Kyiv that was played during the 2022 Grammy Awards, Zelensky said, “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.” Read on to learn more about some Ukrainian artists fighting for their country.

BoomBox

BoomBox, led by frontman Andriy Khlyvnyuk, is a Ukrainian pop-rock band formed in 2004. The duo, which also includes guitarist Andriy “Fly” Samoylo, was just beginning their 2022 tour of North America when Russia invaded Ukraine. This prompted the band to quickly return home, and join the Territorial Defense Forces (Ukraine’s military). The band has recently gained traction for Khlyvnyuk’s a cappella cover of the Ukrainian folk song “Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow”, a protest song dating back to World War I. He recorded the video outside, while dressed in his military uniform. Soon after, Khlyvnyuk teamed up with the legendary Pink Floyd to release “Hey Hey Rise Up”, a fusion of the traditional song and some original writing from guitarist David Gilmour. Gilmour’s daughter in law, who is also Ukrainian, created the cover art for the single, which pays homage to the national flower of Ukraine, the sunflower.

Mika Newton

You may recognize this name from a very important performance. Newton collaborated with John Legend for a performance at this year’s Grammy awards, for his new song “Free”. The pair were also joined by Ukrainian classical musician Siuzanna Iglidan on the bandora, and Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk. Following the performance, the audience was directed to a fundraiser for the people of Ukraine. Back in 2011, the pop singer was chosen to represent Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest, for her song “Angel.”. Newton, who is now based in Los Angeles, has released two albums and has had several songs featured in popular Ukrainian television shows. She worked with famous musician and record producer Randy Jackson on her first American single, “Come Out and Play.” Newton’s sister is currently serving with the Ukrainian military.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mika Newton (@mikanewton)

Vladyslav Buialskyi

The Ukrainian bass-baritone opera singer has filled the Met Opera in New York City with emotion as he sings in honor of his home country across the world. At only 24, his mother and grandmother remain in his small hometown of Berdyansk due to his grandmother’s age, Buialskyi’s bravery comes through with every performance. He famously led the Met Opera Orchestra in singing the Ukrainian national anthem back in March, in one of the first major musical tributes to Ukraine.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Metropolitan Opera (@metopera)

Sasha Boole

The Ukrainian country singer is one of many artists President Zelensky paid tribute to in his Grammys speech–he has joined the fight for his homeland. For fans of the folk-rock genre, his songs “Waiting for Doom” and “Music to Watch the World Dying” is worth a listen–his deep voice and poetic lyrics are comparable to Justin Vernon’s work with Bon Iver. He has met other musicians during his military service, and recently told Rolling Stone that he “believes that this pain can be transformed into some beautiful sad songs.” He hopes to raise awareness and tell the true stories of the sudden Russian invasion by eventually collaborating with many of his fellow musically inclined soldiers.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sasha Boole (@sasha_boole)

Okean Elzy

Okean Elzy is often hailed as “Ukraine’s biggest rock band.” Lead singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk has been an outspoken activist since the band’s formation in 1994 in Lviv and even served briefly as a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament, before ultimately deciding that music felt like a more powerful vessel of change. The band’s concert in Russia was canceled after the 2014 Annexation of Crimea and they had previously supported Democratic reforms during the country’s Orange Revolution from 2004-to 2005. Upon hearing the first blasts during the 2022 Russian invasion, Vakarchuk quickly sprung into action–he has leveraged his connections to assist civilians in evacuating to safety and became a lieutenant in the Ukrainian army, for which he has traveled across the country and assisted with getting supplies to the frontlines. His band’s music is a huge part of Ukrainian history and is certainly worth a listen.

No matter how far you are from Ukraine, there are many ways to help the civilians who are in danger–and it starts with learning about the nation’s rich culture, and strong people.

About the Author

Madison Goldberg

Madison E. Goldberg is a senior at Emerson College majoring in journalism and minoring in publishing and photography. She’s covered numerous topics in news and entertainment as a multimedia journalist.