Chicago – July 17
The magical moment on stage came when Chicago's R & B singer, the unsurpassed Lynne Jordan, sang the Ukrainian well-known song "Cheremshyna" with Oleh Skrypka, one of Ukraine's most beloved rock musicians. Lynne Jordan's excellent band, The Shivers, accompanied the musicians throughout the night at Chicago's City Winery.
People filled the room to capacity and did not know what to expect from an event billed as a charity concert to support the Kyiv Mohyla Academy Center for Psychological Rehabilitation established in Kyiv and in Sloviansk.
It was an unusual musical show, uniting two cultures, two countries, two extraordinary musicians who presented a majestic performance for a worthy cause. For two hours the audience was treated to the joy of hearing musicianship, technical display, and sensitivity that was evident from the magical feel of an ensemble that played as if they had been together for years.
It was a performance that one doesn't forget. And the mood was further enhanced by the social commentary from the singers, who called for support of victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When Lynne Jordan recalled how she and the Shivers performed in Kyiv's Independence Square in the year 2000, and she commented that Ukrainians are survivors, she began singing the song "I Will Survive" that moved the audience to sing along, and dance. It was the same reaction that she experienced from the massive audience in Kyiv sixteen years ago, on the Square that is now known as Maidan.
The audience wondered whether it was possible to combine such different styles and personalities in one performance. Considering that Oleh Skrypka arrived in Chicago only the previous night, and the Chicago-based musicians heard the Ukrainian songs on YouTube only a few days before, it seemed astounding that with only a sound check and a brief exchange of chords before the performance, the artists played together as if they had known each other a long time. Backing up Oleh Skrypka on vocals was jazz singer Olha Tsvyntarna from Kyiv, who happened to be in Chicago at the time, and was called to perform the same day of the show.
It was a performance by musicians of the highest order, who know the sound of surprise, the feel of improvisation, and have the gift for inventing on the spot as they play along. The undersigned, who was the show's producer, said, "I was not worried because these musicians are great artists, and I knew that the bluesy voice of Lynne Jordan would mesh with the unique throaty sound of Oleg Skrypka, and together with The Shivers they
would create an original sound".
In addition to the joy of the musical experience, the audience had the opportunity to contribute to a good cause and help Ukrainian soldiers, children and families suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
A million and a half people were forced to leave their homes in the occupied territories and escape to central and western Ukraine. These are people who lost everything and don't know what awaits them in the future. These are children who witnessed scenes of horror, violence, injustice, and helplessness, not in a movie theater, but with their own eyes in their homes, schools and surroundings.
That is why it is important to support the Rehabilitation Centers staffed by specialists, who can help people in need to cope with their difficulties. These individuals should feel that they have not been abandoned.
This fundraising event lifted the spirits of the audience, provided a sense of positive energy, and brought people of different backgrounds together in an awareness of mutual support.
Before the night was over, Oleh Skrypka surprised Lynne Jordan while they were both on stage, with a rousing call to the audience to sing "Mnohaya Lita", as he learned it was her birthday. With a majority of Ukrainians in the audience and spirits flying high, the sound of the Ukrainian version of "Happy Birthday" became an impromptu chorus that brought Lynne Jordan almost to tears of emotion. But there was more to come. The audience then showered the performers with applause for their renditions of the songs "Fever", "Cheremshyna", and "Sweet Home Chicago" as the finale.
The financial contributions from the audience, and from those who could not attend but donated by mail was heartening. The success of the fundraiser would not have been possible without their generosity.
This concert was yet another example of the Ukrainian diaspora's commitment to Ukraine's independence and freedom, and to the cohesion of the Ukrainian-American community. The event was also an example of the much needed implementation of cultural diplomacy, bringing Ukrainian music to the international stage.
Kyiv Mohyla Foundation