During this year’s Grammy telecast, host Trevor Noah preceded an amazing performance led by John Legend with a powerful message from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who made a connection between music and his country’s current fight for freedom in the midst of a Russian invasion led by Vladimir Putin:
“The war. What is 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. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning. In bomb shelters. But alive. 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. On our land, we are fighting Russia which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. 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. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence. And then peace will come. 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 Zelenskyy’s speech was an emotionally charged rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “Go Down Moses,” which comes courtesy of Legend alongside Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan, Mika Newton, and Lyuba Yakimchuk, the last of whom fled her war-torn country mere days prior to the awards ceremony.
Check out Twitter reactions to said performance below. You can also enjoy more content from this year’s Grammys via their official website.