Age: 25

Education: Choral conducting, R. Glier Kyiv Municipal Academy of Music

Profession: Pop singer, songwriter

Did you know? She assembled her stage name, Jerry Heil, from the Jerry Mouse cartoon character’s name and the first American surname she liked on the internet. Heil should be pronounced as “hale,” not like the Nazi salute.

It’s nearly impossible to live in Ukraine and never hear a song by Jerry Heil. And when one does, chances are it will be stuck in their head, especially if they speak Ukrainian.

The singer came a long way from covering hits by famous musicians to being covered herself. And now she also writes songs for artists whom she could only see on TV some eight years ago.

“This was a chain of events that formed a larger pattern that still works for me,” Jerry Heil told the Kyiv Post.


Yana Shemayeva, which is the real name of Jerry Heil, started her YouTube channel in 2012, covering songs by her favorite bands, like Keane. Only four years later, she got noticed for her covers of Ukrainian artists — after Okean Elzy frontman Svyatoslav Vakarchuk shared her versions of the band’s songs. More Ukrainian covers followed — and more approvals from Onuka, The Maneken and Pianoboy.

In 2017, Onuka’s and The Maneken’s Vidlik Records label produced Jerry Heil’s first mini-album of four original songs. It was a sentimental electronic pop album, well-made, but not something that would top the charts.

It took more songs, an appearance on a TV talent show and finding the right collaborator before Jerry Heil recorded her breakthrough hit. With musician and sound producer Roman ‘Morphom’ Cherenov, in 2019, she made “Okhrana, Otmyena” — a track that made her famous.

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For the song’s lyrical hook, Jerry Heil used a phrase one could hear at every cash register in Ukraine — “Okhrana, otmyena” or “Security, cancellation.” Cashiers use it to signal the security guards that a customer wants to cancel an item on the receipt. If you buy groceries — you’ve heard it.


Jerry Heil put it to music with perfect rhymes and catchy vocals while telling an ironic heartbreak story. The poppy tune sticks in the memory and is easy to sing along. It’s a recipe for viral hits, which Jerry Heil learned to produce with prolific ingenuity, calling her genre “everyday pop.”

“In my music, a person hears the words they use in everyday life,” Jerry Heil says. “What I do, how I look and the ideas I carry — it’s just something home-like, relatable.”

But she likes to break that pattern too. In 2020, she made it to the finals of Ukraine’s selection to the Eurovision Song Contest with “Vegan,” an English-language song about her life as one. Jerry Heil has also become a sought-after songwriter, creating tailor-made hits for pop stars like Vera Brezhneva and Dantes.

“When I write songs for others, I want them to feel as if they wrote it. I talk to the person about their feelings, about what they want to say. Then, I write with the words of this person.”

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