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Show goes on, despite air raid, for Ukraine Eurovision act

Ukraine’s Eurovision act Tvorchi were due to perform at Kyiv’s main rail station Friday when an air raid siren forced them down into the cellar, hours after massive shelling.

The group will represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool next month, after the UK agreed to host the event instead of 2022 winner Ukraine because of the war. 

“It is what it is,” said Andriy Hutsuliak, the electronic music group’s 27-year-old producer, after the sirens sounded.  

“We believe in our air-defence forces.” 

“We always have to come down and try to be safe,” said the electronic group’s 25-year-old vocalist, a Nigerian-Ukrainian who performs as Jeffery Kenny. His full name is Jimoh Augustus Kehinde.

The band members wore matching dark glasses and blue suits with sparkly ornaments in the shape of wheat sheaves. Hutsuliak had his nails painted scarlet.

As it turned out, the all-clear sounded in time for the duo to give an unannounced performance for surprised passengers in the entrance hall of the vast Stalin-era station, which is decked out with chandeliers and mosaics.

Frontman Kenny changed into a gold shirt and trousers, as Hutsuliak jabbed at a synthesiser wearing one black glove. Pink and blue lights flashed as the beats reverberated.

Their concert was to promote a drive to buy incubators for premature babies, run by United 24, a online donation platform supported by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But the focus was on the forthcoming Eurovision contest.

– ‘Heart of Steel’ –

Tvorchi’s song “Heart of Steel” “symbolises strength, it symbolises courage,” said Kenny. 

The duo talked of their pride in representing Ukraine.

“We feel honoured and excited to perform in Liverpool, so we just can’t wait to show all that we’ve prepared,” Hutsuliak told AFP. 

While Kenny declined to give details of their stage show, he promised: “We’re definitely preparing something nice.

“We hope it will impress everyone, because we’re working a lot on it. And we just hope, you know, things go smoothly.

“We’ll add some elements from the ones we had in the national selection and make it better in Liverpool,” Hutsuliak added.

Kenny said they had received “a warm welcome” at concerts for fans with other contestants.

And Hutsuliak stressed they did not want “to be pitied” by those voting.

In the end, they acknowledged, the need to win the war overshadowed everything.

“For us it’s most important to win the fight and to have peace in the country,” said Hutsuliak.

But if they won this year’s Eurovision and the situation became safe enough for next year’s contest to be held in Ukraine, “we will appreciate that and we’ll be happy. That’d be great”.

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