Anastasia Prykhodko is a sultry 27-year-old Ukrainian singer who possesses a smokey contralto that can thunder like a Cossack horde, wail like a steppe wind, growl like a menacing bear or brood like a solitary exile. She is now on her first tour of the U.S.
I became a fan of “Nastya” several years ago while researching a piece on Ukrainian music. I discovered an article about a young, female Ukrainian singer who, after an imbroglio with Ukrainian music officials, was asked by Russia to represent that country in the 2009 Eurovision song contest.
The story included several photos of Nastya. These revealed a face that could either adorn a Byzantine fresco, tempt as a high-tuned tart, or deliver on a lethal beating. I knew I had to hear her sing.
What a voice. Deep, penetrating, soaring. Her performances can range from minimalist to extravagant to militant— and her powerful presence matches her voice. During her concerts she engages her audiences with wit and humor, and displays an intelligence and depth rare for a twenty-something.
Maid of Maidan
Lately, though, Anastasia has matters of peace and politics on her mind. Once an advocate for the “spiritual and historical affinity between Russia and Ukraine,” her mood changed after the events of 2013 that began with Ukraine’s Maidan protests, which ousted President Victor Yanukovich and later sparked Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its backing of a separatist war in Eastern Ukraine.
Nastya performed at Maidan and has since spoken and sung tirelessly against the Russian “occupiers,” especially giving concerts in the war-torn regions. This has earned her hero status in Ukraine and enmity in Russia, where a media mud-fling has hurled non-stop insults and opprobrium. They label her one of Russia’s biggest enemies, and the NTV channel aired a program called “17 Friends of the Junta” that targeted Prykhodko and other critics of Russian actions in Ukraine.
Nastya shrugs off the criticism. “I find it funny watching how Russian media are agonizing,” she told Radio Free Europe. “The very name of the program is laughable.”
And despite her former popularity there, she declares that she’ll never perform in Russia again, saying, ” I won’t sing for the occupiers.”
Meanwhile, she twitters back some nastya words of her own: “Dear Russians, I will not show you the way, you know where to go, although, no, you’re already there!”
Anastasia Prykhodko’s current American concert tour kicked off in Philadelphia on March 5th and will take her to New York (March 6), Washington, DC (March 7), Boston (March 8), Chicago (March 13), Minneapolis (March 14), San Francisco (March 15), Los Angeles (March 20), ending in Seattle (March 21).
All concert proceeds will benefit humanitarian aid relief to wounded soldiers and other victims of the war in Ukraine. If you want to find out more about Nastya—and your Russian and Ukrainian are awesome—you can visit Anastasia Prykhodko’s website or, for concert info, her blog.