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YUNA music awards bring glam, glitter and good spirits

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YUNA co-founder and Kyiv Post publisher Mohammad Zahoor and his wife, singer-actress Kamaliya, pose for the photographers on the red carpet at YUNA music awards ceremony on Feb. 21, 2017.
Photo by Kostyantyn Chernichkin

Nothing says Ukrainian show business more than YUNA. This year’s music award ceremony, attended by a sold-out crowd of at least 3,700 people and broadcast live on M1 TV, brought together a good variety of music genres and artists.

The music awards spectacle was started in 2012 by Kyiv Post publisher Mohammad Zahoor, with help from producer and radio host Pavlo Shylko, to celebrate Ukraine’s best music. The winners are traditionally determined by an extensive team of judges, all with a connection to the Ukrainian music industry. Deloitte auditing firm monitors the entire process.

Some performers started arriving early to the red carpet of Kyiv’s Palats Ukraina on Feb. 21. Ukrainian singer Pianoboy seemed a little hesitant, while pop band Agon gave off a 1980s Sex Pistols’ vibe with their punky outfits. “Kyiv Post? That’s the only newspaper I read! Because I know where to get it for free,” band member Kostiantyn Borovskyi said.

Members of Ukrainian hip-hop band TNMK got a special YUNA award for “Contribution to the development of Ukrainian music industry,” while singer Monatik also arrived in good spirits. “I always can’t wait until my own performance at YUNA because I get nervous about performing,” Monatik shared. “Every YUNA performance is like an exam, but in a good way.”

Rock band O. Torvald had every reason to be happy on this dazzling evening. They recently made their way to the Eurovision 2017 national selection final and their lead singer Zhenia Halych starred in a new Ukrainian film “Fight rules.” The band was also nominated for “Best Rock Band” and “Best Artist’s Management” YUNA awards.

But Halych kept it cool: “Nomination? What nomination?” he said. “Oh, it’s the “Best party-goers’ nomination definitely. That will be us.”

Zahoor and his wife, singer-actress Kamaliya, were among the last hit the red carpet. As the sought-after couple gave interviews, twin daughters Arabella and Mirabella entertained the public by strolling the red carpet.

Kamaliya, who cannot be nominated or win any YUNA award, said that following other artists’ success makes her happy. “At least I can perform at YUNA every year while others can’t. That’s my prerogative,” she laughed.

Lights, camera, action

The host, Ukrainian hip-hop artist Potap, started the prestigious ceremony by highlighting a certain prophetic ability of YUNA.

“Last year Jamala bagged herself four awards. Then she won the Eurovision, bringing it to Ukraine,” he said.

TNMK, O. Torvald and MamaRika were the first to perform with a new take on TNMK’s old hits “Zroby meni hip hop” (“Do me some hip hop”) and “Hranuly” (“Granules”). Bands Agon and Vremya i Steklo offered the audience their catchy tunes and well-organized choreography. Pianoboy gave a soul-baring performance of his “Rodymky” (“Birthmarks”).

Midway through the night the host, artists and audience honored with a minute of silence the late talented Ukrainian video director Maksym Papernyk, who died on Feb. 19. This gesture was followed by another tribute – a touching performance of George Michael’s hit “Freedom” by one of the YUNA nominees Dima Libra.

Zahoor and Kamaliya were the first to present an award, which went to Jamala and DakhaBrakha for their duet “Zamanyly” (“Enticed”). Zahoor even shared a secret to helping the odds of winning a YUNA award.

“The easiest way to get this statuette is by recording a duet,” he said. The nomination tends to have the least competition. “For some reason there is no such tendency of creating duets and collaborations in Ukraine like there is abroad.”

Monatik seemed to have a successful evening with receiving “Best video” award for his work “Kruzhit” (“It sways”) and “Best Album,” for “Monatik Zvuchit” (“Monatik Sounds”) presented to him by Ukrainian singer Oleh Skrypka.

“You deserve it. Well done,” Skrypka said.

“So that’s how parents must feel when their child does well,” Monatik said.

The Hardkiss stole the rest of the night by first bagging themselves the “Best Rock Band” award then performing their first ever Ukrainian-language song “Antarktyda” (“Antarctica”).

“Am I dreaming?” Yulia Sanina reacted upon accepting the award. “A couple of years ago I would not even have imagined the possibility of receiving this.”

The Hardkiss also collected the “Best Concert Show” award for their five-year anniversary concerts “The Hardkiss. Five.”

“Best Pop Band” award went to Vremya i Steklo who earlier on performed their hit “Navernopotomuchto” (“Probably because”). Jamala won “Best Soloist.” She was in London but recorded a short video screened for the ceremony.

“Thanks to YUNA music awards and to all who voted, believed and supported me,” the singer later wrote on Facebook. “I was there in spirit.”

Winners of ‘YUNA 2017’ National Music Award
Best Soloist: Jamala
Best Pop Band: Vremya i Steklo
Best Rock Band: The HARDKISS
Best Song: “1944” by Jamala
Best Album: “Monatik Zvuchit” (“Monatik Sounds”) by MONATIK
Best Music Video: “Kruzhit” (“It sways”) by MONATIK
Best Duo: “Zamanyly” (“Enticed”) by Jamala and DakhaBrakha
Discovery Of The Year: Griby
Best concert show: The HARDKISS’s 5-year anniversary concerts “The HARDKISS. Five”
Fresh sound: Cepasa
Contribution to the development of Ukrainian music industry (special award): TNMK
Best Artist’s Management: Olexiy Potapenko, Iryna Gorova (MOZGI Enterntainment) – Mozgi, Vremya i Steklo, Potap i Nastya

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