The Ukrainian Musicians Fighting Russia Through Song: TIME




When Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared in a recorded video before the tuxedoed glitterati gathered in Las Vegas for the Grammy Awards ceremony in April, he spoke of how the brutality Russia had inflicted upon Ukraine brought something else with it: silence. The silence of dead soldiers and civilians; the silence of abandoned, destroyed cities. “The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence,” he declared. The antidote? “Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story.”

Ukraine’s own artists are doing just that. Since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24, their music has penetrated the horrors of the war with soulfulness and defiance. Nina Garenetska, the singer and cellist in Ukraine’s renowned DakhaBrakha group calls it the “energy of resistance.” For years, DakhaBrakha’s three musicians have performed with traditional instruments, wearing indigenous Ukrainian costumes, and singing old folkloric songs they had recorded in villages around the country. Now, that has assumed far greater meaning, posing a direct challenge to Russia’s narrative that Ukraine has no culture of its own. “This is our inspiration. Our roots,” says 38-year-old Garenetska. “It gives us strength in this fight.”
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