Amid Air Raids, Ukrainian Group Preps for Eurovision

Tvorchi, featuring Andrii Hutsuliak and Jeffrey Kenny, will perform 'Heart of Steel' Saturday in UK
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2023 4:15 PM CDT

Last year, Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra took home the grand prize at Eurovision for "Stefania," just a few months after the Russian invasion that has upended life there since. Per NPR, there's now a "special spotlight" on Ukraine for its entry this year into the international singing competition: the electronic music group Tvorchi (Ukrainian for "creative"), made up of 20-somethings and old college classmates Andrii Hutsuliak, a producer, and singer-songwriter Jimoh Augustus Kehinde, aka Jeffrey Kenny, a Nigerian citizen who arrived in Ukraine in 2013 for his pharmacy studies. The pair have four studio albums under their belt, but since the war back home began, their performances around the EU have mostly been fundraisers for the troops and people of Ukraine.

Even their entry into Eurovision is tied to the invasion: "Heart of Steel" is about Ukrainian forces defending Mariupol's Azovstal metalwork plant. The New York Times details the challenges Tvorchi encountered while trying to record the music video for their song, work that was at times interrupted by air raid sirens and power outages. The group was chosen to represent Ukraine at Eurovision at a selection performance held underground in a Kyiv subway station. "Everyone can meet hard and difficult times," Hutsuliak says in describing their song's theme, adding, "We just wanted to say, be a stronger and better version of yourself."

The singing contest is typically hosted by the previous year's winner, but Saturday's finale will be held in England's Liverpool instead, as the logistics of setting up the show in war-torn Ukraine were too complicated this year. Want to know who else to look for at Eurovision? The Guardian has a lineup of more than a dozen other songs that caught staffers' attention, with topics ranging from unicorns and smoothies to Edgar Allan Poe. Sample lyric from "Who the Hell Is Edgar?," performed by Austria's Teya & Salena: "There's a ghost in my body / And he is a lyricist / It is Edgar Allan Poe / And I think he can't resist." More here and here on how Hutsuliak and Kehinde met, and on their work and friendship. (More Eurovision stories.)

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