Iryna Bilyk

Iryna Bilyk is a highly celebrated Ukrainian singer/songwriter and entertainer from Kyiv. Mainly a composer of ballads and dance pop, she has released albums in her native Ukrainian as well as Russian and Polish. Her impressive commercial success in Ukraine, fueled in large part by her ability to adapt to the changing popular music landscape, won her comparisons to Madonna in the latter half of the 1990s. Her significant influence on the development of pop music in Ukraine was also formally recognized in 2008, when she was also named a People’s Artist of Ukraine by then president Viktor Yushchenko. To date, she has released 10 full-length albums and won numerous awards, including the Golden Firebird (Золота Жар-Птиця) from the Tarvia Games Festival and the YUNA Music Award. Her latest record, Encore (На бис), was released in 2008.

Bilyk began her musical education at a very young age. At the age of six she participated in the popular children’s vocal group Ladybug (Сонечко), which afforded her the opportunity to perform throughout much of the former Soviet Union. It has been attested that upon returning from her trip, she would often sneak out to practice on a neighbor’s piano. She composed her first song at a mere 10 years old. Having been exposed to theater and music instruction throughout her youth, she eventually enrolled in the R. Glier Institute of Music in Kyiv as a pop vocalist in 1989.

Bilyk released her first full-length record, Forged Cuckoo (Кувала Зозуля), the following year. However, her professional career would not really take off until a chance encounter at Vinnytsia’s Spring of Hope (Весняні надії) Festival, where she was introduced to several members of the band Ajax (Аякс). Sharing similar tastes and aspirations, they decided to begin a collaborative arrangement. The joint effort,This Rain for a Long Time (Цей Дощ Надовго), quickly gained the attention of a major talent agency, Rostislav Show, and by 1992 the group had produced its first single, “Only Yours” (“Лише твоя”). The success of the single would lead the band to several festival performances, including a victory at the Song Vernissage (Пісенний Вернісаж) International Music Festival. In 1994, Bilyk began her first major tour of Ukraine in support of her second record, I Will Tell (Я розкажу).

Bilyk’s star would only rise during the rest of the decade. In 1995, she performed her first solo concert to a sold-out crowd at Ukraine’s National Palace. The same year she was selected as a representative of Ukrainian popular culture to meet visiting US president Bill Clinton. In 1996 she won two Golden Firebird Awards, for Singer of the Year and Song of the Year—for the track “So simple (“Так просто”).

Since 2000, Bilyk has maintained a steady recording and touring schedule. In 2001 she also began to branch out, recording a Polish language album, Bilyk. This trend into foreign-language records continued into her next releases, with both 2004’s Love. Poison (Любовь. Яд) and 2008’s Encore (На бис) sung entirely in Russian.

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The video for Bilyk’s first hit single, “Only Yours” (“Лише твоя”):

 

The lyrics for “Лише твоя”:

Я знаю, що може все бути, як я забажаю.
Ти поруч пройдеш – я навмисне тебе не впізнаю.
Я знаю, що знову ти будеш дзвонити й мовчати.
Приносити квіти і в мріях мене цілувати.
Але тільки два слова знов і знову
Хочу почути від тебе.
Даремні розмови, слів зайвих не треба,
Я все розумію й так.

Сьогодні я лише твоя,
Я хочу тільки так. Лише твоя.
Зроби перший крок. Сьогодні ми
Залишимось удвох: тільки ти і я.

Хай поглядом кожним тобі залишаю надію.
Та знай, тільки першою я підійти не зумію.
Тільки два слова знов і знову
Хочу тобі дарувати.
Лише доторкнися і зможеш пізнати
Кохання мого слова.

Але два слова знов і знову
Хочу почути від тебе.
Зайві розмови… Чуєш, не треба.
Я все розумію й так.

 

The 2010 hit, with Sergei Sverev, “Two Relatives of the Soul” (“Две родных души”):

 

The Lyrics for “Две родных души”:

Я не знаю, что сказать
Просто я не помню слов
Что обычно говорят

Я в глаза твои смотрю
Что могу тебе дарю
А взамен ты даришь взгляд

Рядом или далеко
Друг от друга мы с тобой
Только не порвется нить

Трудно нам или легко
Но истории свои
Мы должны соединить

Нежно прижимаются и так хотят согреться
Два влюбленных сердца, две родных души
И дороже нет тебя на целом белом свете
За тебя в ответе, только мной дыши

Не пойму, никак, за что
Мне твой безграничный мир
Подарили небеса

Важно очень даже то
Что среди полей невзгод
Стала белой полоса

Рядом или далеко
Друг от друга мы с тобой
Только не порвется нить

Трудно нам или легко
Но истории свои
Мы должны соединить

Нежно прижимаются и так хотят согреться
Два влюбленных сердца, две родных души
И дороже нет тебя на целом белом свете
За тебя в ответе, только мной дыши

Нежно прижимаются и так хотят согреться
Два влюбленных сердца, две родных души
И дороже нет тебя на целом белом свете
За тебя в ответе, только мной дыши

Нежно прижимаются и так хотят согреться
Два влюбленных сердца, две родных души
И дороже нет тебя на целом белом свете
За тебя в ответе, только мной дыши

 

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Michael Filitis is a recent MA graduate from the University of Chicago where he concentrated on early Soviet nationalities policy, propaganda, and the rise of nationalism in Eastern Europe. A recipient of SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship his current focus is the improvement of his Russian language skills with the goal of pursuing a Phd in Russian history and political science. Outside of academia, he enjoys playing and composing music, eating to excess, movies about space, and contemplating a more active lifestyle.