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Ukranian violinist joined by 94 fellow musicians as he plays folk song from bomb shelter

Ukranian violinist joined by 94 fellow musicians as he plays folk song from bomb shelter

Violinists from around the world joined in an "international violin choir of support" for Ukraine.

As Ukraine continues to fight off Russia's military invasion, we see more and more heartbreaking images of suffering and destruction from the war. Apartment buildings where people went about their lives less than three weeks ago devastated by bombs, rubble and missiles in streets and playgrounds where families walked and children played, hoards of people fleeing with what they could carry, leaving everything they've known behind.

The loss and waste and inhumanity of it all are unfathomable, as is the case in every war.

And yet, just like in every war, we see glimpses of beauty and connection, of the very things that make us human and provide hope that we as a species are not doomed by the worst of us. We see love, we see laughter, we see compassion—and we see music.

One of the most remarkable things about humans is how we make art, no matter what. You'd think when our basic survival is immediately threatened, we wouldn't bother with creating beauty or expressing ourselves artistically, but we do. Every time. Art is not an add-on to life; it's inextricably wrapped up in life itself.


Art is also a way for us to express solidarity, especially when we feel helpless to stop inhumanity from happening. It's a way for us to say, "I see you. I am with you. I acknowledge your suffering even if I can't make it stop. Let's let this beauty remind us of what humans are capable of on the other side of violence and conquest."

That's what makes this viral video of violinists around the world playing with a Ukrainian violinist so beautiful.

In the video, Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko plays a gorgeous and haunting Ukrainian folk song on his violin from a bomb shelter in Kyiv. At first, it's just him playing solo, but soon he is joined by nine other young Ukrainian violinists who are also sheltering. Then more violinists join from different countries, then more and more, all playing along in harmony.

In all, 94 violinists from 29 countries—whose flags are depicted in the corners of their screens—contribute to what British violinist and organizer Kerenza Peacock called “an international violin choir of support." They include world-class violinists from the London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, the Hollywood studios and renowned violinists who play various styles of violin from Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Georgia, Poland, South Korea, South Africa, Moldova, Denmark, India, Germany, the U.S. and more.

Watch and listen:

According to Classic FM, Bondarenko had to record his part between bombings so he could hear himself play. That detail alone is just heartwrenching. But musicians play wherever they are, whatever is happening.

Bondarenko had shared a video on Instagram on February 25, the day after Russia invaded, explaining what was happening and how the international music world had already been lending its support. He wrote:

"Today, when my whole country is fighting for its freedom, for its territory, for the right to BE..., I cannot keep silent, but I cannot make a video and record for you right now on the Internet because I spent almost all night with my grandmother in the basement of the house, helping the elderly neighbors, helping in any way I could. My parents are in another city now. But we musicians are always there for our people in sorrow and joy! That's how my soul, my country, my Kyiv sounds today. Thank you to everyone who writes to me and supports me! From Germany, America, France, Italy, Argentina, Switzerland, Poland, Japan, Turkey, Austria and other countries. I am convinced once again that music is the most understandable language in the world for all people! Glory to Ukraine!"

Violinist Kerenza Peacock, who organized the collaboration—and pulled it together in 48 hours—shared what made this collaboration so moving: "Never before have violinists gathered together from so many countries. Or collaborated across so many different styles of violin playing. Violinists are a fellowship who all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some are currently having to think about how to arm themselves, and hiding in bomb shelters instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass. Some more Ukrainians wanted to take part, but now have guns in their hands instead of violins."

Here's to those who insist on the beauty and humanity of creative expression even in the face of inhumane atrocities, reminding us of who we are and what we are capable of when we focus our energies on creation instead of destruction.

Sandhya with other members at a home meet-up

South Asian women across the country are finding social support in a thriving Facebook group devoted to them.

The Little Brown Diary has over 40,000 members, primarily between the ages of 20 and 40, and 100 subgroups devoted to niche topics. Some of these include mental health, entrepreneurship, career advice, and more.

Members of the group can discuss their experiences as South Asians, inner conflicts they face, and even bond over their favorite hobbies. The Facebook group has become a safe place for many of its members to find support in the most transformative periods of their lives. These include:

  • Supporting women in domestic violence and sexual assault circumstances
  • Sharing mental health and suicide resources
  • Connecting members to support each other through grief and loss
  • Helping members find the strength to get a divorce or defend their decision to be childfree
  • Helping them navigate career changes
  • Helping to find friends in a new city
  • Finding a community of other neurodivergent people in their shoes

“I joined the online community because I was looking for that sense of belonging and connection with others who shared similar experiences and backgrounds,” expressed Sandhya Simhan, one of the group admins.

“At the time, I was pregnant and eager to find other desi moms who could offer support, advice, and friendship during this significant life transition,” she says.

Another group admin, Henna Wadhwa, who works in Diversity and Inclusion in Washington, D.C., even uses the group to inspire new areas of research, including a study on ethnic-racial identity at work.

“I was surprised and excited for a group that brought together South Asian/brown women. I wanted to meet other women with similar research interests and who wanted to conduct academic research on South Asian American women,” Wadhwa says.


While social media isn’t always the best place to spend our time, studies show that the sense of community people get from joining online groups can be valuable to our mental health.

“The presence of LBD has allowed so many South Asian women to truly feel safe in their identity. The community we have built encourages each person to authentically and freely be themselves. It is a powerful sight to witness these South Asian women be vulnerable, break barriers, and support each other in their journeys,” says Wadhwa.

Hena and Neesha

According to an article in Psychology Today, a study on college students looked at whether social media could serve as a source of social support in times of stress. Turns out, these students were more likely to turn to their social media network rather than parents or mental health professionals for connection. The anonymity of virtual communities was also seen as appealing to those experiencing depression.

“The social support received in the online group promotes a sense of well-being and was associated with positive relationships and personal growth,” the article states.

This is why finding a community of like-minded individuals online can have such a positive impact in your life.

“There are almost half a million women in our target audience (millennial South Asians in North America) and about 10% of them are part of LBD. It’s been a game-changer for our community. LBD is all about embracing your true self and living your most authentic life. It's amazing to see how the members support, relate, learn, and lift each other,” says Wadhwa and Simhan.

Pop Culture

'Britain's Got Talent' contestant blew Simon Cowell away singing a song he 'hates'

Her heartfelt version of "Tomorrow" brought people to tears—and completely changed Simon's tune.

Sydnie Christmas nailed her rendition of "Tomorrow" from "Annie"

Contestants on "Britain's Got Talent" (as well as "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent") have long feared Simon Cowell's judgment, so imagine auditioning with a song choice that automatically brings out his sour side.

That's what contestant Sydnie Christmas did when she chose to sing "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie," which is Simon Cowell's least favorite song. But much to everyone's surprise, she totally blew him away with her beautiful soulful rendition, causing him to change his tune.

Before performing, Christmas bounded onto the stage with her genuine smile and spunky energy, which endeared her to the judges and audience immediately. She even cracked a joke about her middle name being "Mary" (Sydnie Mary Christmas would be quite the name choice) and got everyone laughing with her.


However, when she announced she'd be singing "Tomorrow," Cowell winced and the other judges groaned.

"That is Simon's worst song," warned judge Amanda Holden.

But when Christmas, who works as a receptionist at a gym, began to sing, it soon became clear that this wasn't an ordinary rendition of the musical classic. Soulful, heartfelt, sad but hopeful, she built the song up bit by bit, bringing the audience along with her on an emotional ride.

Watch:

Not only did she get the coveted Golden Buzzer, but she also managed to get Simon Cowell to say he now loves the song he said he'd hated just minutes before. Viewers loved it, too.

"That was the first time I could take this song serious. Before today I hated it, too," wrote one person.

"When they say you have to make the song your own, she did just that. I have never heard a better version," wrote another.

"Absolutely beautiful; love how the word “tomorrow” always sounded unique EVERY TIME! Listened over and over…" added another.

"I've heard that song a million times and she REALLY got the poignancy of it," shared another. "It is a sad song, but a song of hope, and it is hard to walk that line and she KILLED IT. It's not just about her voice, it is how she sold that song."

She even pulled in people from various walks of life, moving them with her performance:

"I'm a 60 year old highway worker. Just got off work and my wife sent this to me. What I'm trying to figure out is who's been cutting onions in my vehicle? Seriously, teared me up. This took me COMPLETELY off guard and I am so delighted to have experienced this diamond!"

"41 year old hip hop head here and never did I think I would be touched like this. The sound of suffering with a glimmer of hope in the sound. Who is cutting onions at this time."

"I’m a 60 year old builder sitting in my van having lunch. I just watched this. The guys in the next van are taking the P coz I’m crying my eyes out! Brilliant!"

As someone named Annie, I've had "Tomorrow" sung to me countless times over the years, so I shared Simon Cowell's initial grimace upon hearing what she was going to sing. But I too was moved by Christmas's performance and gained a whole new appreciation for the song after her gorgeous rendition. Not an easy feat. What a delightful surprise for us all.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Three woman walking down city streets.

A forensics student named Alex recently shared vital information on TikTok that all women should know. She detailed the specific signs male predators are looking for when they choose a victim.

Her video is based on a 2013 study entitled “Psychopathy and Victim Selection: The Use of Gait as a Cue to Vulnerability.” For the study, researchers interviewed violent criminals in prison and asked them the type of women they’d be most likely to victimize.

The study found that the criminals all agreed that how the woman walked was a deciding factor.


“What the selected women all had in common was the way that they walked and how they generally held themselves in public,” Alex says in the video she later deleted but has been shared broadly across the platform.

@gatita_bunee

How to walk for your safety! #women #safety #tips #walking #kidnapping #murder #attacks #fyp

“The selected women all had a similar ‘awkwardness’ to the way that they walked and carried themselves,” she continued. “The first part of the woman had a gait that was a little bit too small for their body, which resulted in smaller steps, slower speed and their arms more typically to their sides, or crossed, as well as their heads being down and not really taking in their general surroundings, which indicated three different things to these potential attackers.”

The woman’s body language signaled to attackers that she was fearful and anxious and because her head was down, she'd be easier to surprise. Alex then described the second type of woman the criminals said they’d target.

“On the other hand, the other part of the women that were selected had a gait that seemed a bit too big for their body and their arms tended to flail to the sides and seemed just overly awkward,” Alex continued.

The woman with the bigger gait signaled to potential attackers that she may be clumsy and won’t put up a good fight. “Because their arms were out and flailing to the side, it left the lower body open to, again, come around and grab them,” she said.

woman walking, predators, crime

Two women walking down the street.

via Mâide Arslan/Pexels

The video was helpful because Alex also discussed the types of women the attackers wouldn’t pursue. Alex says these women “walked with a gait that tended to be more natural to their body.” She adds they moved at the same pace as those in the immediate area, with their shoulders back and chins up and asserting a general sense of confidence.

“Essentially, the women that were not selected gave off an energy that said, ‘Don’t mess with me. I will put up a good fight.’ And that’s why they weren’t selected,” Alex said. “I know that it sounds silly, but something as simple as the way you walk or the way that you carry yourself in public could determine the likelihood that you become a target of a predator.”

Alex concluded her video by sharing an acronym that can help prevent women from being victimized while in public: STAAR.

S(tride) — Walk with a natural stride to your body and not too far apart or short.

T(all) — Stand tall. Keep your shoulders back and your chin up. Assert a natural confidence and dominance to those around you.

A(rms)—Swing your arms naturally by your sides, avoiding keeping them too close to your body or flailing out of your natural range of motion.

A(wareness) — Stay aware of your surroundings. Take notice if something feels or looks off.

R(elax): Stay cool, calm, and collected and don’t indicate to a potential attacker that you feel or see something is wrong.







Five women hold their bellies in a baby shower photo.

Getting married and having a child is a huge life change and so when a group of friends goes through the same experience together, it’s a great way to bond. Unfortunately, for some people, these changes on the domestic front can take over their lives and become their entire personality.

People who are single and aren’t looking to have kids any time soon can have a hard time relating to their friends who are married with children because they have less in common. Further, when you don’t have children, it can be a little tedious to hear people talk all day about lactation, sleep schedules and spitting up.

These topics can be boring to people who have children, too.


A Redditor who goes by Remarkable_Lake410, who we’ll call RL for brevity’s sake, recently ran into this problem with her friends. Instead of feigning interest in married mom life, she decided to be honest with them about why she didn’t want to join them on a trip.

child-free woman, Reddit, writing post

A woman writing a post on Reddit.

via Magnet.me/Unsplash

“I (27F) have a group of female friends (8 of us). We have been friends for over a decade, since school. Now, we don’t live in the same place, but we meet up a couple of times a year for a weekend on an Airbnb. This used to be a weekend of good food, drinks, hot tub, etc.” she wrote on the AITH forum.

“Around five of my friends are either married or in very long-term relationships. Of these five, two either have a baby or are pregnant. I will be seeing all of my friends this year for various wedding, friend and baby events. I have been invited to this year's girls' trip, but I have said I can’t come. I didn’t originally provide a reason,” she continued.

But a friend pushed her to find out why she didn’t want to go on the trip and she was honest: She didn’t want to be stuck constantly hearing about babies, marriage and weddings on a trip that was going to cost a significant amount of money.

“[Last time], I listened to one of my friends talk about her breastfeeding plans, with vengeance, for over an hour. She is not pregnant or trying. Truthfully, it’s boring, and it feels dismissive,” RL wrote. It’s also a really expensive way to feel bad about myself.”

When her friend heard her reason, she was “really hurt,” and it felt like RL didn’t care about her and her other friends. So, RL asked the Reddit forum if she was in the wrong for being honest and skipping a trip that would be all about marriage and babies.

The post received over 4,000 responses that were overwhelmingly supportive for RL.

"On the surface, this seems like it’s just about engagements, weddings and babies. You go out of your way to be constantly supportive of them. However they don’t reciprocate that for you. They can’t relate to anything or want to relate to anything outside of their lives. It would sort of be like if you just won an award, but all they talked about was the pie they just ate that morning," Dependant_praline_93 wrote in the most popular comment.

"We all change as we get older. You naturally drift apart from some friends, especially if their lifestyle changes dramatically (think married with children, in particular). I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money to spend 3 days with a group that had such dis-similar interests. And I don't think it was wrong to be truthful when your friend asked you why you wouldn't go," Smokin_HOT_Ice added.

baby, happy couple, baby photo

A couple holds their newborn baby.

via Magnet.Me/Unsplash

One commenter with kids has a close friend who is a child-free and she has made an effort to ask her about her life and interests of just talking about parenting.

“I was 38 when I had my first child and I read an article in Working Mother magazine when I was pregnant, and it said not to be the jerk who always talks about your pregnancy and your baby to your friends, especially the ones without babies,” JellyBear135 wrote. “When I see her, I always ask about her work, her activities outside of work and recently, her new baby dog. She lives alone and doesn’t have a lot of people who always ask about her life so I make sure I always do. I check in via text every couple of weeks to ask her about her life.”

After receiving a huge response from her post, RL wrote an update revealing that another friend who’s in the same boat decided not to go on the trip as well. “I have spoken to one of my other friends invited on the trip (who is also not at the baby stage of life); she is also not going on the trip and said she is not attending for the same reason,” RL wrote.

It seems the big takeaway from RL’s dilemma isn’t just that stage-of-life changes such as marriage and having babies can create chasms in friendships. But we need to make sure that we’re not just talking about ourselves to our friends but listening to them as well. Because a one-way friendship isn’t a friendship at all.

Mom releases perfect anthem in time for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up quickly and people may be trying to figure out what to get their moms or partners for the special day. Most of the time, if you listen close enough throughout the year, you can pick up on things here and there that just might do the trick. But in case nothing is coming to mind, one mom took to the internet to release "Another Mom Anthem," that just might contain some clues on what to do for the moms in your life.

Lauren Berty, who goes by That Twin Mom on Instagram, posted one of the most relatable anthems about motherhood to the tune of Cardi B's "I Like it Like that." It's so much of a bop that moms are asking if there's a way to download it on Spotify or to make it their ringtone.

The video starts off with the mom holding her twins on either hip appearing distressed while her older child plays a handheld video game. Berty changes scenes multiple times throughout the video but the theme is clear.


"I like peace, I like quiet. I like some grapes in my diet," the mom says as she holds up a glass of wine. "I like the house all to myself, with no kids, with no crying. I like drinking fancy coffee, especially if it's still hot."

The song continues in a similar fashion, laying out all of the things a mom could want on any given day, really, but especially on Mother's Day. Other moms are in agreement.

"Say it louder for the father's in the back," one mom says.

"This is the best thing I’ve ever seen. Truly a masterpiece," another writes.

"GIRL!!!! LOUDER! You deserve a Grammy for this!!! lol," someone declares.

"How can i download this song and add it as a ringtone," another commenter asks.

Someone get this mom in the booth—she's going places and not just in the laundry room. Who knows, this song could find itself being the official mom anthem. Give it a listen below and if you figure out how to download it to blast it while running errands. don't keep it a secret—inquiring moms want to know.

She was born for this.

Musical theater isn’t exactly for the hobbyist singer in general, but certain showtunes require so much skill that even the greats would shy away from them. “Defying Gravity,” from lyricist Stephen Schwartz and librettist Winnie Holzman’s “Wicked,” certainly falls into that category.

The iconic song, made famous by Idina Menzel, is a rollercoaster of key changes, dynamic shifts in tempo and volume, agile riffs and of course, that thrilling high belt at the end…all while being suspended in the air, mind you. It’s something that even the best of the best have to train for years to be able to do.

And yet, an 11-year-old made it look effortless.


Back in May of 2023, Olivia Lynes stepped onto the stage for “Britain’s Got Talent,” sporting a little pink dress with ruby red shoes.

As she tells the judges “hellooooo” in the most adorable accent ever, you’d never get the sense that this sweet, polite young girl was mere seconds away from blowing the roof off the place.

But then she opens her mouth to sing, leaving everybody floored from the very first note.

Watch:

Holy moly, was that incredible, or was that incredible?

Olivia would go on to channel Menzel a few more times, singing “Let It Go”and “Into The Unknown” from Disney’s “Frozen” and “Frozen 2,” rightfully getting dubbed “the new, undisputed Disney princess” by judge Bruno Tonioli.

As if Olivia weren’t enough living proof, science does tell us that it is entirely possible to be born a gifted singer. After all, our anatomy plays a huge role in our singing abilities—facial structure, vocal folds, nasal cavities, etc. And our genetics influence our anatomy. So it makes sense that some people come into this world with inherent advantages.

However, just like with any athletic endeavor (which singing most certainly is) our skill level can improve with practice and training. Still, we can marvel at those natural born Olympians who seem fated for greatness.