Ukrainian women’s stories inspired Emer’s song of hope

A local composer and harpist has collaborated with Ukrainian refugees living in Dundalk on a musical project culminating in a new song called ‘Bright Star’.

Emer Kenny from St Mary’s Road, Dundalk was inspired to create the song after hearing the stories of Ukrainian women who sought refuge in the town following the outbreak of war.

“One of the women is from a place that has been badly damaged. She told stories about the destruction of her hometown,” said Emer.

“We wanted to acknowledge the pain experienced by the women but they also wanted it to be a song of hope.

“It was a collaborative piece and it took a long time to complete. I did interviews and then I recorded the song in my home studio.”

She added: “John Murphy produced it and did programming and mixed it. I’m not very tech savvy.

“It’s a challenging song with lots of tempo and key changes. It’s a very difficult topic. Many of the migrants coming here had worthwhile lives – jobs and families – in Ukraine.

“It’s not an easy thing to do to decide to run away in your pyjamas in the middle of the night because it’s dangerous.”

Emer continued: “They didn’t do it lightly. It’s traumatic for them. They couldn’t live there at all.

“It’s serious stuff. The chorus in the song is: ‘You are not alone Bright Star’. We wanted the song to be hopeful.”

There is also a YouTube video to accompany the song. Anyone interested in viewing it can search for Emer Kenny on YouTube.

The video for ‘Bright Star’ features contemporary dancer Polina from Donetsk. Harpist Rosie Murphy, John and Emer’s daughter, is also shown performing in An Táin Theatre.

The YouTube video includes frontline footage from Ukraine, filmed by the video director, Finn Boylan.

Emer previously worked on a musical project, which resulted in a musical work called ‘Ghosts’.

It was commissioned by the Derry Playhouse and their project partner Queen’s University, and was based on the testimonies of survivors of the ‘Troubles’.

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