American-Ukrainian musician shares experiences of war during stop in Omaha

A Ukrainian musician made a stop in Omaha Friday night -- sharing songs and stories of the horrors of war.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 10:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Jurij Fedynskyj, who performed in Omaha Friday, can play the torban, kobza and bandura.

However, he’s also well-versed in the violence in Ukraine. The 48-year-old American-born musician said he moved there in his early twenties.

When Putin launched his military invasion last year, did Fedynskyj want to come back to the States?

“Just leave Putin all my work?” Fedynskyj said. “I invested 25 years in Ukraine. If Putin comes, it’ll be all gone. He’ll destroy it all.”

Instead, he said he and his student have been to the front lines, playing music for Ukrainian troops and folks seeking refuge in bomb shelters.

He said he’s seen it all. The dead bodies, the destroyed buildings, burnt tanks.

Among the more difficult things he’s done is playing in areas where there are a lot of Russian sympathizers.

He’s had a few close calls, too.

Like the time they were playing to servicemen housed in a cement factory.

“They knew that was our headquarters,” Fedynskyj said. “Before our event, the military said, ‘Get in your car and leave now. There is a missile from Russia pointing right this way.’ So these guys get on the tanks, which are at the headquarters, hidden there. They all start dispersing as we do, and we hear some bomb blasts at that point. All the car alarms go off.”

Fedynskyj is using some of the money from this tour to buy walkie-talkies and drones for the troops, as well as for gasoline so he can continue traveling to the frontlines to play music.

It has him separated from his wife and kids, who are still back in Ukraine.

As of Friday, he said he’s raised $20,000.

He’s dedicated one of the songs in his setlist to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The idea of spiritual poetry, this is not for the people who do good,” Fedynskyj said. “It’s also for the people who do bad things, the people who need spiritual poetry to get their act right.”

It’s a message he continues to spread along this tour.

If you would like to check out Fedynskyj’s music, click here.