Words by Tess Becker
The Russian Invasion of, and subsequent war, in Ukraine is nearing its one-year anniversary. The people of Ukraine have been subjected to violence, displacement, and other awful things that come with war.
The international support for Ukraine has been swift and vast with an outpouring of funding from individuals, organizations, and entire countries. One group that has aimed to support the people in Ukraine is the recording artists that makeup October Project.
The band was formed in the 90s and is made up of members Emil Adler, Julie Flanders, and Marina Belica. October Project has been into advocacy for a while, supporting and raising funds for other international conflicts, and more recently bringing together 163 singers from around the world during the height of Covid in 2020 to sing in the award-winning “Virtual Choir of Joy.”
“They were on that musical activism side – they had a song that was in keeping with that, and thinking about wartime children and Bosnia, that was called the Eyes of Mercy back in the day,” October Project’s public relations consultant Katie Waldron tells Smiley News.
Their newest project, in support of Ukraine, is called ANGELS FOR UKRAINE, and in partnership with collaboration with Kseniya Simonova, a globally-renowned sand artist and winner of Ukraine's Got Talent. They are working to raise funds for the International Rescue Committee's “Crisis in Ukraine” Emergency Fund.
As a part of the project, they released the song “Angels in the Garden” with an accompanying music video featuring visuals from Kseniya.
“Over the years we’ve had listeners express the power of our music in their lives, especially in times of transition and hardship,” Flanders says. “The notion of music being a healing force is always there for us.”
“Humanitarian work is a natural aspect of that. The daily news of the horror and homelessness we see Ukrainians experience is unimaginable.”
Belica then added: “While we hope that what we have created will uplift people, we wanted to do something more to support Ukrainian women, children, and families. As winter sets in and temperatures fall well below zero, the IRC is scaling up its efforts in Ukraine and its neighboring areas, distributing essential seasonal items such as blankets, sleeping bags, and heaters to cover the most basic needs of displaced families.”
They wanted to get this project done as the winter months rolled in and the weather in Ukraine got much colder.
“Refugees and displaced families are already dealing with so much anyway, but then with the weather changes, there's so much more blankets and you know, medical supplies and things that people need to help these families via the IRC,” Katie says.
As for future efforts, the band is planning a choir piece to support mothers and children.
“We are on the verge of producing another choir piece that has a theme of mothers and children (victims, innocents) being displaced from their homes by war and other forms of destruction - people who are seeking harbor,” Flanders says. “This is an important cause to us and we'll be reviewing ways we can couple this piece with relief efforts in 2023.”
On the Ukraine effort, Flanders said that they wanted to highlight light and peace.
“At a time of year when angels are symbols of hope and peace, we want this song and our position as recognized artists to serve as angels, returning light and comfort to those less fortunate than we are,” says Flanders.