Bob Kinkel ’79
As co-creator of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), Bob Kinkel ’79 continues to spread messages through song — this time one of hope for the people of Ukraine.

Unbreakable” was written in 2014 by recording artist/songwriter/producer Dina Fanai (aka Avalona) and writer/producer Andrey “Jandy” Prudnikov following the Russian takeover of Crimea. The song was never released, but when the war escalated to an unthinkable level, Kinkel became passionate about sharing it. We asked him to share his thoughts on this endeavor. 

First off, tell us about how you became involved with this project?

Dina and I know each other from TSO, where she was a singer then head of artist development. We are partners in all aspects of life: we live, write, and produce together and were married in May. I was involved in the project from the beginning; we had brought Jandy over from Ukraine to work with us on some projects, and this track evolved during that period. 

What is the song about and how does it move its message? 

“Unbreakable” is about finding a light deep within and having the strength to rise through the ashes within even the darkest of moments. The lyrics are the message:

“Never giving up in this lifetime,
Never bowing down in my armor,
Never turn away,
Eye to eye now,
You will fall …
I’m Unbreakable.”

Why did you decide the song needed to be released and how did that happen?

In 2014, we had gotten the song to a strong demo level and set it aside. When Russia invaded, we decided it was time to put on the finishing touches and get it out into the world. In summer 2022, I played the song for Jaewon Peter Chun, president of World Smart Cities Forum, when we all attended a salon to support Ukraine. After hearing its powerful message, Peter joined us, deciding to use “Unbreakable” as the theme song for his initiative to rebuild in Ukraine.

The team partnered with video director Alexander Yuffa, who was working in the war zone to create a music video/documentary showing not only the pain and destruction but the courage and strength of the Ukrainian people. He added the opening of the video, which recreated the story from the journal of a boy from Mariupol.

What were your thoughts at the time about the situation in Ukraine? Why is this personal for you?

Our first thoughts when we heard of the invasion were for our friend, Jandy. Where is the fighting? Where is he? Are he and his family safe? As time went on, we realized that a lot of people we know are from Ukraine and many still have family there.

Working with the film crew and editors that were in Ukraine gave us the perspective of the reality of being there and trying to keep life as normal as possible. The editors would tell us, “We can’t work today, we have no power and we’re hiding under our desks because we’re being shelled.” One woman happened to be filming while she was driving to work when a shell exploded in the highway in front of her. She and all the other drivers around her turned around as debris fell on their cars. Watching the video footage connected me to what they were experiencing and seeing how easily that could relate to us.

‘Unbreakable’ is about finding a light deep within and having the strength to rise through the ashes within even the darkest of moments.

Has the song’s relevance changed as the war continues?

The song is more relevant  than ever. The scope and viciousness of the war over the last year-and-a-half is unbelievable. In 2014, the Crimean takeover had the threat of war with Russian troops waiting at the border. This time it is a full-scale invasion with the beautiful cities of Ukraine being destroyed. With the fighting involving the entire country, people need hope. The children in the video who say they’re “unbreakable” are all from the refugee center in Bulgaria where the director teaches filmmaking as part of the program to help children through the trauma. We are also in the process of recording the song in Ukrainian.

How do projects like this one impact your own work as a musician?

Using the power of music to help make life better in the world has always been central to what we do. Individually and through our LLC Power of Music Global, we work closely with other organizations like Daniel’s Music Foundation, which provides free music lessons to people with disabilities, and Runway of Dreams, which is revolutionizing the fashion world with adaptable clothing for the disabled.

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