Charlottesville jazz musicians raise thousands for Ukraine after benefit concert kicks off campaign

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville’s jazz community came together to play tons of live music on the Downtown Mall on Wednesday night.

Paulien, a Charlottesville singer who was one of many performers on Monday, described it as a “gigantic jazz jam.”

People of all ages -- and even some dogs -- enjoyed the concert outside of The Whiskey Jar. But they weren’t just there for a good time. They were helping raise funds for the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

“We’re on the other side of the ocean, but we can still connect because it’s a virtual world, really,” Paulien said. “And we can connect through music.”

The performances were jobs of passion, but organizing the benefit concert was actually because of a personal connection between a Charlottesville guitarist and a Ukrainian guitarist.

Royce Campbell has talked to a fan, a fellow guitarist, in Ukraine for years. Recently, their conversation changed.

“He talked about the fear that he was experiencing,” Campbell said.

Then, jazz students in Ukraine sent a message.

“We call on the Western musical community to support the people of Ukraine,” they wrote. “Because this is not only our war, it is a war for democracy, a war of freedom against dictatorship, a war of light and darkness.”

Campbell called this the one way musicians can help out.

“When push comes to shove, the people of Charlottesville will get together and we work as one,” Paulien said.

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