Living Sound

Living Sound Audience with Pope John Paul II, August 13, 1980 showing His Holiness with Mike, Nancy and Baby Carrie (4 mo.) McKibben
August 13, 1980
In the late 70s and early 80s, my husband Mike and I traveled in Asia and Europe with the Gospel group Living Sound; I as the journalist, Mike first as the trombone player, then as European Director (while we lived in England.) Despite the Iron Curtain that divided Eastern Europe from the rest of the world, Living Sound was able sing in Eastern European countries including Poland, working with Cardinal Karol Woytyla who would become Pope John Paul II, and the Soviet Union, at a time when few other Western groups played there. Here is a video produced by my husband Mike about that amazing time.
Alexandra Pakhmutova Songs, Living Sound, 1981 (English lyrics by Nancy McKibben)
Recorded March 1980

THE STORY, THE MUSIC, THE PEOPLE: We Can’t Live Without Each Other by Michael McKibben, Mar. 3, 2013

THE STORY: Michael McKibben, former European Director of Living Sound between  1977-82, assisted by numerous fellow Living Sound alumni, documents previously unreported musical events in Moscow, U.S.S.R. between 1979-81. This story journeys back 33 years to a time of explosive tension between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R, namely the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics.

Living Sound Team IV performing at Soviet Central TV on July 23, 1981
July 23, 1981

It documents the collaboration between a tightly controlled Soviet cultural elite, a Communist government committed to the eradication of religion and free thought, blacklisted and underground Soviet bands Arsenal (“Aрсенал”) and Time Machine (“Машина времени”), activist Artemy Troitsky, persecuted Soviet Christian musicians from Estonia, and a group of young American, Canadian and European Christian musicians in a pop/jazz/rock Gospel band named “Living Sound.”

The songs “We Can’t Live Without Each Other” and “Childhood Dreams” by Soviet composer, Alexandra Pakhmutova (awarded the Order of Lenin in 1979) with English lyrics by Nancy McKibben, are the fruit of this unlikely East-West collaboration. This video also features “Then and Now” descriptions of the activities of principals in this story since 1981.

THE MUSIC: “We Can’t Live Without Each Other” (“Hам не жить друг без друга”) by A. Pakhmutova, N. Dobronravov, English lyrics by Nancy McKibben, arranged and recorded by Living Sound in 1980, distributed by Melodiya, Gosconcert and Mosfilm in 1981, performed at Soviet Central TV on July 23, 1981 produced by Evgeny Ginzberg. THE VIDEO scripted by Michael McKibben with research assistance from Living Sound alumni. A special “thank you” to Stormie Baker, daughter of former Living Sound Team IV trumpeter Steve Baker, for prodding Living Sound alumni and friends to finally tell this story.

THE PEOPLE: Click here to view a list of the more than 200 people and organizations acknowledged in this video history.



Video Downloads & 1980 Olympic Film Cues:

  • YouTube LogoTHE STORY, THE MUSIC, THE PEOPLE: We Can’t Live Without Each Other by Michael McKibben HD-quality (1.6GB, wmv)
  • THE STORY, THE MUSIC, THE PEOPLE: We Can’t Live Without Each Other by Michael McKibben YouTube
1980 Moscow Summer Olympics logo with YouTube logo
Released Spring 1981

1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Film by Mosfilm, including Living Sound songs:

I also wrote English lyrics for a third song named “Olympiada ’80” by David Tukmanov. Enjoy!

“Olympiada ’80” by David Tukmanov, English lyrics by Nancy McKibben; arranged and recorded by Living Sound. Melodiya Records, 1980. Accessed Feb. 11, 2013 <>.

NOTICE: This material is made available under the “fair use” doctrine which allows copyrighted material to be available for educational purposes only. No intellectual property rights are waived and no rights of third parties are claimed.

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