An unexpected guest appeared by video at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards ceremony ahead of John Legend’s powerful performance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared by video from a bunker in Kyiv, where he gave a powerful speech that reminded the celebrities and fans tuning in that not every musician was able to be celebrating the awards ceremony that night.
The GRAMMY Awards is considered one of the most important nights in music, but for over a month, the people of Ukraine have been fighting against Russia as Russia invades the country.
Many of Ukraine’s celebrities aren’t performing right now because they have taken up arms to fight for their country. Zelensky has complete awareness of the fact and made sure that every attendee and viewer of the Grammy Awards knew that.
Watch President Zelensky give a powerful speech during GRAMMY Awards
Zelensky’s speech was somber as he addressed the crowd via video, but his message was necessary.
He started off by saying, “The war. What’s more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured, and 153 children died. And we’ll never see them drawing.”
He continued his almost two-minute speech by recognizing that parents there are happy to wake up alive in bomb shelters, but at least they are alive.
He added, “Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. 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. We defend our freedom to live, to love, to sound.”
He began his closure by saying that they are fighting Russia in Ukraine, which brings “horrible silence” with bombs, “dead silence.”
Despite the somber tone, he does bring an uplifting message to listeners. He said, “Fill the silence with your music! Fill it today to tell our story. Tell the truth about this war on your social networks, on TV.”
He advised people to support the Ukrainian citizens any way they could, so long as no one was silent. He added that as long as no one is silent, “then peace will come.”
He concluded his statement with, “To all our cities the war is destroying: Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol, and others. They are legends already, but I have a dream of them living and free. Free like you on the Grammy stage.”
Following his statement, John Legend gave a very powerful and moving performance supporting the Ukrainian people.
John Legend gives powerful performance at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards
John Legend was joined on stage by Ukrainian artists to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives and those who will lose their lives throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
John performed his new song, Free, which had religious undertones and urged for an end to the war in Europe.
Billboard reports he was initially joined by two Ukrainian artists, the first being musician Siuzanna Iglidan based in Denver, who is originally from Odesa, Ukraine. They were then joined by Mika Newton, a Ukrainian singer.
Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuck joined them on stage as well. Yakimchuk reportedly fled Ukraine very recently, only just days ahead of the performance.
The tribute asked for an end to the war and for the protection of those who are involved, a fitting request following Zelensky’s speech.