Though the attack on his country is ongoing, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continued his run of remote appearances in the United States at the 2022 Grammys on Sunday night. In a pre-taped address in English, Zelenskyy discussed the humanitarian crisis in his country before singer-songwriter John Legend took to the stage to perform “Free,” a new song that incorporates lines from famous Civil Rights Movement speeches and songs.
“The war. What is more the opposite of music,” Zelenskyy said. “The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal 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.”
Here is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pre-taped speech at the #Grammys, introducing a performance for Ukraine from John Legend: “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals.” https://t.co/rjX2S54hkr pic.twitter.com/43fcZTrjQK
— Variety (@Variety) April 4, 2022
During the performance, Legend was joined by Ukrainian artists Siuzanna Iglidan, a bandura player, Mika Newton, Ukraine’s entry into the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, and Lyuba Yakimchuk, a poet. As Yakimchuk read a verse, a chyron onscreen said that she “fled Ukraine just days ago.”
Variety reports that Zelenskyy recorded the video in a Kyiv bunker in the last 48 hours. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Grammys partnered with Global Citizen and the Stand Up For Ukraine campaign to produce the segment, which they hoped would raise awareness for the plight of refugees who have fled the country in the month
“We are heartbroken by the situation in Ukraine, yet still moved by the resilient spirit on display there every day.” Harvey Mason, the CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement before the show “We hope the segment inspires our worldwide audience to get involved to support these critical humanitarian efforts.”
Originally published in Vanityfair.com