Linata tries to hold back the tears, knowing she has to take the stage soon. She stays strong even as the panic creeps in — she knows it’s nothing compared to the horrors her family members back home in Ukraine are facing.
“I’m experiencing this here in L.A. being sort of safe,” she said. “It just kills me.”
The singer/songwriter says that never in her lifetime did she expect to see her country bombarded with ammunition or crushed by tanks. She has been in constant contact with her elderly parents in Kyiv, hanging on the phone as they are awoken by 2 a.m. air raid sirens, clinging to the sound of their voices as they take shelter in the kitchen or bathroom of their apartment on the 15th floor of a residential building. But the war has taken its toll on the country’s communication infrastructure, and Linata fears her parents will soon be out of reach.
Three days ago, Linata and her friends at the Influence the World nonprofit decided they had to help, somehow, someway. They came up with the idea of hosting a benefit concert, and 72 hours later, they were producing a sold-out show inside the Pendry Hotel that raised approximately $10,000 in aid to Ukrainian refugees. The proceeds will be used to directly purchase what the people of Ukraine are most in need of, said Joe Adams, Influence the World board member and spokesman.
“Remember, these people left with only the clothes on their backs,” he said, “So these are people who left without gasoline, toothbrushes, sanitary supplies for women, diapers and formula for babies.”
The benefit concert proved to be the perfect fit for Influence the World, which was founded by event promoters and social media influencers Murray Swanbee and Corey Lee in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
“Murray and I have been wanting to do something positive with our platform for a really long time,” Lee said, “because we had all these followers on Facebook and Instagram and we were just promoting clothing lines and things, and there’s just so much happening in the world right now that breaks our heart, and we really wanted to do whatever we could about it. We wanted to create a platform for people to do something positive with their voice.”
“The mission of Influence the World is to harness young social media communities to give back to people in need,” Adams said. “So what we want to do is educate young social media influencers about the events that are going on in the world, about people in need, and directly give back to those people.”
Stuck in the U.S. on a tourist visa as her country fights for its existence, Linata doesn’t know if or when she’ll ever be able to go home again. She knows the concert won’t win the war — but she has faith in the power of the individual to make a difference.
Before she begins her set, Linata recalls barrels her grandmother would leave outside during rainstorms.
“Little by little, drop by drop, they added up to something.”