Ukraine Eurovision contestant wrote song as tribute to mum before Russian invasion
Oleh Psyuk has told how he wrote Ukraine’s Eurovision song as a tribute to his mum, before the Russian bombs started falling.
But now the track, Stefania, has taken on a new meaning, helping millions of brave Ukrainians and becoming an anthem in their war-ravaged land.
Ukraine ’s entry for tonight's Eurovision Song Contest is already winning hearts around Europe with many predicting a landslide victory for Oleh’s band with Ihor Didenchuk and MC Kilimmen, Kalush Orchestra.
Lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed” have become more poignant as more than 11million Ukrainians have fled.
Oleh said: “The song was dedicated to my mother and was written a long time before the war. But after it all started, people began hearing it differently.
“Many people are now perceiving the whole of Ukraine as their mother, or many people are just missing their mothers.”
Stefania is the most-watched song on YouTube among the 35 entries which will compete in Turin. Oleh, who is from Kalush in western Ukraine, said the suffering of the six-man band’s countrymen, and their own friends and relatives back home, are on their minds.
He added: “Of course we’re always worried. There are lots of friends I know who have suffered from this war, some people who have died. It’s just horrible.
“You wake up hearing explosions and then every morning you don’t know if all your friends and family are alive or not.
“It really is terrible. When I see those images on television from Bucha or Mariupol, I can only feel these horrible emotions which are indescribable. I have relatives who have gone to fight. We will never forgive our enemy for the hundreds of deaths of innocent children, tortured people, burned houses and all the bombs dropped on civilians.”
In the first days of the war in February Oleh founded a volunteer organisation called Where Are You? to help refugees find shelter.
He said: “We see representing Ukraine at Eurovision as part of the war effort.
“Every person who sees us and hears us means we’re keeping the focus on Ukraine.
“I think I’m being the most useful for my country doing this.
“Like the Ukrainian people, I believe we can win the war.”