The Grammys got a dose of reality this year when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared in a pre-taped speech amid the ongoing invasion of his country by Russia.
Introducing John Legend’s performance of “Free,” which featured a poem read by Ukrainian refugee Lyuba Yakimchuk, Zelensky spoke about the power of music in dark times, equating war with silence: “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.” He had a request for the Grammys crowd: “Fill the silence with our music. Fill it today, to tell our story… Support us in any way you can, but not silence. And then peace will come.”
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Zelensky’s speech was pre-taped sometime in the past 48 hours in an underground bunker in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, our sister site Variety reports. Ukraine has been under attack by Russia since the invasion began in February, vaulting Zelensky into the international spotlight. He was rumored to possibly make an appearance at last week’s Oscars, with Sean Penn and co-host Amy Schumer publicly advocating for him, but those plans ultimately fell through and Zelensky did not appear.
Press PLAY above to watch Zelensky’s speech, and drop your Grammys thoughts so far in the comments.