An iconic ‘80s song by Sting has been given an epic makeover by Irish singer and musician Stella Bass, who is hoping to raise funds to help the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
“Russians” was written and released by Sting in 1985 as his commentary on the Cold War and the propaganda battle which raged around that time. He had stumbled upon a Russian kids’ TV programme similar to Sesame Street, and was surprised to see how similar it was to the American version…that when it came down to it, Russians loved their children as much as anyone else. The song echoes that sentiment, telling of the futility of war; that simply by being human, we share so much more than that which divides us.
Stella Bass, who is podcast presenter here at The European Network is also a Dublin based singer and producer, who has been performing professionally in Ireland and overseas for close to twenty years. Stella has been incredibly moved by the plight of the Ukrainian people, and felt compelled to do something to help.
“I’m a huge fan of Sting’s music, but this fairly obscure song of his has always been my favourite. I grew up in the 1980s when, even in neutral Ireland, the spectre of nuclear war hovered, so it’s always somehow stuck with me. The song kept going round and round my head the first few days after the invasion on 24th February, as its message suddenly had such relevance again; so much so, that I recorded a version in my own studio, initially with no specific plan in mind but hoping it somehow might be a way to raise money”.
She wrote and produced a cinematic-style arrangement quite different from Sting’s original, even including a snippet of the Ukrainian National Anthem, a song we’ve been hearing so often these last weeks as the world stands with Ukraine. Interesting to note too, that Sergei Prokofiev, who composed the motif that Sting sampled in the song, was born in Donetsk, Ukraine – one of the hotspots of the war. Indeed the international airport there, sadly destroyed in the 2014 Donbas War, was named after him.
Having recorded the song, Stella called in a couple of favours from friends in Dublin to flesh the idea out further. Jiggle Media created a stunning, cinematic video which illustrates the lyrics beautifully as well as showcasing some gorgeous shots of Kyiv, and Camden Recording Studios (co-owned by Bressie) mixed and mastered the track.
In the meantime, Sting himself recorded a new acoustic version, featuring acclaimed cellist Ramiro Belgardt (Star Wars/West Side Story), with proceeds going to Help Ukraine Centre, an initiative based in Poland close to the Ukrainian border, which is procuring medicine, medical equipment and humanitarian aid to help those most in need.
“So there was the answer to how I could help. If the Help Ukraine Centre is good enough for Sting, I’m in!”, she said.
“My simple request is this. Take a look at our version of ‘Russians’, and if you enjoy it, please feel free to donate directly whatever you can on https://helpukraine.center/. I have been in touch with them myself already and they are just so grateful for any help that can be sent their way.”
Featured image used under Creative Commons credit.