by Sergey PANASHCHUK
A street musician, Yulia Roshchak, 25, plays guitar and sings in the heart of Odesa, near Knizhka, close to Derybasovskaya Street.
Her powerful, almost enchanting voice pierces through the soul and creates the specific atmosphere of a surrealistic fest during the war.
Knizhka is a rather peculiar place, an open-air market with stalls filled with all kinds of stuff like pastries, street food, frozen sea fruits, coffee, and illegal currency exchange with higher rates.
There are rumors that one can even buy drugs there or find certain people connected with the mafia who can get you anything you want.
But all that does not matter to Yulia, who chose this spot because she felt connected to the human flow here.
She sings in the evenings, and since Odesa has plunged into darkness because of the Russian attacks, every store has installed a generator, and they make a lot of noise.
There are quite a few near Knizhka as well.
Yulia takes a break from singing as the generators get especially loud and it is hard for her to compete with them. So we can use the pause to talk.
"What does performing on the streets mean to me? This is my life.
No matter what feelings I have experienced before—whether I was down or blue—when I start singing, everything gets brighter.
This is interconnected. People are passing by, and sometimes I can feel that something clicks inside them.
I can see it in their eyes. A little flame. As if they just woke up and realized they were alive.
Most of the people who are heading home are tired or tensed, and when I can see them stopping by and listening to what I sing and seeing that sparkle in their eyes, that means a lot.
I sing, no matter what the weather is; during the chilly winter, many asked whether I felt cold. I always say that their smiles are the best blankets for me.
In childhood, I wanted to sing on stage. I even wrote in my diary that I wanted to become a singer. Three years ago, I met my husband-to-be, who was also a street musician named Alexey, and he brought my dream to life".
Now Yulia dreams to start a guitar teaching class together with her husband, where they will learn how to play the instrument using just one hand. This is their special technique. Yulia plays all the songs with one hand.