‘YOU live but it is like you die.”

The trauma of fleeing Ukraine with her son and 72-year-old mother was so severe that singer, actress and TV presenter Elzara Batalova found she could no longer sing.

Having first escaped to Kyiv when the Russians annexed her Crimean homeland in 2014, Batalova was forced to flee again when the city came under fire after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.

At the time she was still grieving the loss of her husband to Covid and initially tried to stay in Kyiv but, after hearing from friends who had fled to Scotland, she decided to escape the bombs with her remaining family.

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Yet despite being lauded for her singing in Ukraine and despite feeling welcomed by the people in the Scottish Borders where she has found refuge, Batalova found she could no longer sing.

“My voice didn’t work because my heart and everything has just died,” she said. It was only when she was asked to sing at the first Scottish concert for Ukraine in Inverness that she regained her voice.

“When I first went on stage – oh my God, I have a feeling that I am born again, that life has started again. It was a fantastic feeling,” Batalova said.

She sang again for Ukraine at the Usher Hall in February and will sing in Glasgow at the Royal Concert Hall on September 16 along with other Ukrainian and Scottish musical and spoken word performers.

Singing with a band formed from some of Scotland’s best musicians has been a boost and a reminder of the life Batalova used to live but still, when she hears the news about the ongoing killing and destruction in Ukraine, her desire to sing disappears.

“Sometimes when I read the news of what is going and when I read of a child dying and what is happening to families then I don’t want to sing,” she said.

Working has helped to distract her but although she is grateful for the employment as a waitress, first for Peebles Hydro and then at the Macdonald Cardrona hotel, she is determined to restart her career as an actress and singer and has applied to theatre groups for work while continuing with English lessons in her spare time.

In Ukraine she was awarded the title of Actress Emeritus of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and her career has been tightly interwoven with the history of her people, the Crimean Tartars.

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Her grandparents were among the Crimean Tartars deported to Siberia after the second World War but made their way back in 1967. Many of the remaining survivors of the deportation returned to Crimea after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Said Batalova: “I am happy and proud to say that it was to the sound of my songs that they did so.”

Leaving Ukraine to adapt to a different country and learn a new language has been difficult but she is grateful for the help she has been given.

“I am happy that I am in Scotland very kind and nice people but I hope the war finishes soon,” she said.

In the meantime she will sing for her homeland in the concert in Glasgow along with some of Scotland’s most prominent musicians and actors who will stand in solidarity with Ukrainian musicians in a celebration of “art, civilised values and defiance”.

“The concert will acknowledge the seriousness and tragedy of this terrible war but it will also celebrate the strength and resilience of Ukraine,” said producer Matthew Zajac. “It will provide an opportunity for the people of Glasgow to demonstrate its support for Ukraine and its people.”

The Glasgow Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) is organising the concert to raise funds for medical aid for Ukraine and to support efforts to help the displaced Ukrainian population of the Greater Glasgow area.

Glasgow stands With Ukraine will also feature video messages from the frontline and from displaced Ukrainians currently living in Scotland.

“With no sign of an end to Russia’s attempt to destroy Ukraine, it is vital that we continue to support the Ukrainian people and maintain public awareness of their plight and the extraordinary bravery that Ukraine continues to demonstrate in its defence of our democracy and freedom,” said Zajac.

“Glasgow Stands With Ukraine is our way of doing this. We will mourn those who have been lost and we will sing for them. Scottish and Ukrainian artists will come together in a celebration of art, civilised values and defiance.”

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The concert will feature LAU, one of Scotland’s most celebrated folk bands, actor Cameron Fulton who can currently be seen in Amazon Prime thriller The Rig, Outlander and as series regular Tyler Foulkes in BBC’s River City and Lesley Hart, whose credits also include River City.

Also in the line-up are the Ando Gasto Collective, Piper Lorne MacDougall, whose movie credits include Brave and the How to Train Your Dragon series, 13-year-old Ukrainian piano virtuoso Denys Pidhirny, who is currently living in Lanark and is continuing online paino lessons with his Ukrainian music teacher, Scottish festival regulars Yoko Pwno, singer Toma Butko who is currently living in Aviemore, opera singer Oksana Mavrodi, Perthshire bard Jim Mackintosh, folk multi-instrumentalist Hamish Napier, Ukrainian dance trio Flowers of Ukraine, singer Karina Chervakova, violinist Anastasia Sivash, journalist Jen Stout and singer and, of course, Batalova herself.