Anton Kopytin is the 37-year-old former winner of the singing competition show The Voice of Ukraine.
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He is also a refugee who has recently made a home in Seattle with his family after narrowly escaping the Russian invasion of his home country.
Kopytin and his family arrived in the Emerald City in March, according to The Seattle Times. They carried two suitcases, a duffel bag, and five backpacks—one for each family member (including their three children).
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022, the Kopytins are among thousands of families who have sought refuge in the United States.
Anton says he remembers when the bombings began on February 24th.
The professional singer, who won The Voice of Ukraine in 2015, says he was preparing for an upcoming show and his wife, Olha, was preparing her notes for a music class the following day. They went to bed around 1 a.m. but awoke a few hours later.
The parents grabbed their three children and hid in their bathroom.
Says Anton to The Seattle Times, “It was so late, we couldn’t understand what was going on.”
He checked the window and saw bombs exploding. “Then we understood [the invasion] has begun,” he said.
Eventually, they moved to an underground bunker. They resurfaced for food and fresh clothes. But they had no car, no means of escape. But then a friend who couldn’t leave offered his. Ukrainian men, The Seattle Times reports, with fewer than three children are banned from leaving because they may be called to fight.
The family left Ukraine on February 26. On March 1, they reached Poland. Then they got on a flight to Amsterdam and made their way to Seattle.
In the Northwest now, they have work permits and little money left in their savings.
As for his singing career, Anton sang Andrea Boccelli’s “Con te partirò” for his audition for The Voice of Ukraine. Previously, he’d been working on construction during the day and practicing singing at night. Once he won, they were given an apartment in Kyiv and his career took off.
But it halted, first with the pandemic and then the war.
Now, though his family is safe, only questions remain.
“We see the pictures in the news and we can’t understand, we don’t know the cities, the streets,” said Anton to The Seattle Times, “Everything’s broken.”
Still, he and his wife are hoping for a better future.
“All kids must have a childhood,” Anton said to The Times. “We must build their community here because they need friendship. They need to create happy memories here … They need to return to normal life.”