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A musician who has toured two active war zones across the Middle East and Ukraine while tensions were running high says she wants to return to provide a “musical escape” for people.
Sam Stray Woods, from Lancashire, is a vocal producer, DJ and performer that has performed all over the world.
She spoke exclusively to Daily Star about what it’s like performing in war-torn places and countries where tensions are running high.
During her time in the Middle East, Sam performed in over 20 military bases and explained that despite it being rewarding, she had several experiences that left her fearing for her life.
“I did 12 days in Iraq and 12 in Afghanistan. As you can imagine it can be quite intense,” she said.
“From the minute you leave the civilian airport you’re not allowed to tell anyone where you are, and as soon as you land you’re kitted out in full body armour.
"I was being flown around in chinooks and black hawks, and one time during a flight our pilot spotted a potential threat on the ground and started combat flying and firing warning flares.
“I thought we were being shot at and I have never been more terrified. I kissed the ground when we landed!”.
Along with her tours in the Middle East, Sam also performed in Ukraine the day after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down.
The flight had been flying over eastern Ukraine when all 238 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.
“I was booked to perform in a Ukrainian nightclub that was famous amongst Russian tourists, and obviously tensions were running very high that day,” she shared.
"My manager asked me if I wanted to cancel but after my experiences in the Middle East there was no way I wasn’t performing. I was the only artist that turned up! I’d go back there tomorrow if I could”.
Sam explained that when the opportunity arose to perform for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, she didn’t hesitate to accept the offer – despite her soldier boyfriend’s apprehension.
“My boyfriend at the time had just got back from a 15-month tour in Iraq and really didn’t want me to go, he was still having nightmares,” she said.
“My job isn’t to fix a crisis, it’s to give people an escape, just some small relief. And if I can do that for people who need it the most, how could I possibly turn down that opportunity?”
The musician said her management, Origami Management, is currently organising a Ukraine fundraiser.
She hopes to one day add a stretch of tour dates in Ukraine to provide a small amount of relief in any way that she can.
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