For the past 2 weeks we have been interrupting the scheduled programmed events at different Toronto venues to SING…
To sing powerful traditional songs, musically and sonically shaped by the courage and solidarity of a people fighting for survival.
So powerful that you don’t just hear it, your feel the collective strength…
So powerful that it can awaken people from indifference and help recognize the wars and injustices not just in Ukraine but that so many are fighting around the world.
We are a group of Toronto musicians/artists with connections to Ukraine, collaborating hard to find ways to support those in Ukraine, and developing this extensive list of resources to help navigate this terror.
I’ve been humbled yet again by a community of mostly women, who reacted and mobilized so quickly to the sudden and unimaginable terror of war that fell on Ukraine two weeks ago.
These women facilitated transportation and lodging for those seeking refuge; advocated and organized services for unfairly treated visible minorities; compiled reliable media and donor agencies for us in the “west;” compiled form letters to government and corporations – to plead for sanction against Russia, to request services be withdrawn from Russia, or to plead for a no-fly-zone; compiled lists of supplies needed from sources in Ukraine and listed local drop-off points here in Toronto; organized a unique Toronto cross-cultural fundraiser… It was and continues to be an unbelievable whirlwind of chaotic organization, logistics, messaging, google docs and sheet, slack channels…
But in the midst of all this, these women also took the time to meet up with each other, to sing together, and for others. They sang in local bars and restaurants, like DROM, La Palette and The Pamenar.
They initially sang there to share their grief with audiences they knew, in venues they frequented. And when they sang and shared the traditional Ukrainian songs, they channeled that profound collective memory of courage and strength that Ukrainian people have needed in so many past wars and even genocide.
The power of these collective memories came clearly through these songs and affected audiences in just as profound a way, even to people who have no association with Ukraine. Even when they sang at the Supermarket’s Big Fam Jam, where the creative musical youth of Toronto gather and were ready to party, to celebrate the end of the lock ups, and sing and play their funky hearts out… those youth all stood quietly and listened; and when asked, they all joined in on the drone to accompany the singers. And when the songs were over, they cheered with such enthusiasm and force that it felt Ukraine would be able to withstand anything!
And just as the songs can express the strength needed to counter the devastation in Ukraine, a unique Toronto cross-cultural fundraiser to amass that strength happened only 2 weeks after the war broke out, on FRIDAY MARCH 11 at the OPERA HOUSE, where we raised over $30,000 for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. For more info please visit www.WithUkraine.ca
By the way there is a long history of music, defiance and war in Ukraine. I will update this article with a few links to find out more in the next couple of weeks.
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