Brad Paisley performs in Kyiv & meets President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Thursday 13 April 2023

Country star Brad Paisley visited Ukraine with a bipartisan delegation of centrist U.S. senators and sang in front of destroyed Russian military equipment in Kyiv’s Mikhailovsky Square, and on a nearby sidewalk. He performed solo acoustic versions of his own recent Ukraine-themed single “Same Here” as well as well as a Ukrainian-language folk song.

Paisley was part of the trip undertaken by Democratic senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all of whom attended a news conference in the square.

“I’ll bet you’ve never heard Brad Paisley sing in Ukrainian,” tweeted former presidential advisor Igor Novikov, posting video of the singer performing in the rain as reporters looked on.

Paisley was also photographed meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who appeared as a (spoken-word) guest on Paisley’s “Same Here” recording; it was the first in-person meeting between the two of them. The singer has been an ambassador for Ukraine’s United24 fundraising campaign.

During their visit with the president, Manchin and Paisley — who share a home state, West Virginia — presented the leader with a University of West Virginia ballcap.

Paisley also met with and sang for U.S. troops in Poland on the trip.

At a press conference in Kyiv, Paisley said, “It’s an emotional experience seeing all of this firsthand. For me looking around this city and being here for the first time, I’m absolutely struck by the resilience of life and the beautiful nature of the way this city is trying to thrive in the middle of conflict. And also trying to be as free as they can be in this hard time. I think as an American, it is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen, and I’m absolutely honored to be here.”

Said Manchin in a statement, “It was my pleasure to travel with West Virginian and UNITED24 Ambassador, Brad Paisley, and witness his performance that truly lifted the spirits of everyone present. The level of patriotism, professionalism and sheer endurance of the Ukrainian people is inspiring. After this visit, I am even more convinced that defeating Vladimir Putin and ending his ruthless war against the Ukrainian people must remain our top priority.”

Underscoring the sharp divisions between Republicans who are hawks and doves on support for Ukraine in Russia’s attempted invasion, Paisley has taken heat from some conservatives since releasing his song with Zelensky, who has been painted as a villain by a number of right-wing talk show hosts. His trip to the embattled country made it clear he’s not being swayed by any resistance he’s encountered in his support.

Paisley released “Same Here,” with its special “feature” from Zelensky, in February on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. The song was written by Paisley with Lee Thomas Miller and Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith. Proceeds are earmarked UNITED24’s Rebuild Ukraine program, which is collecting donations to rebuild homes damaged in the war.