Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared virtually at the Grammy awards on Sunday, begging the famous crowd not to “be silent” amid Russia’s vicious, unprovoked attacks on his country. John Legend gave a special performance as part of the show’s special tribute to Ukraine.
Host Trevor Noah introduced President Zelensky, declaring, “One thing that has always made music so powerful is the way it responds to the times. Even in the darkest times, music has the power to lift spirits and give you hope for a brighter tomorrow. And there’s nobody who could use a little hope right now more than the people of Ukraine.”
According to Variety, Zelensky shot the video within the last 48 hours in a bunker in Kyiv. In a passionate, pre-recorded message, the former actor asked, “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,” he said.
“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,” Zelensky continued.
“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,” Zelensky concluded.
Legend then took the stage for an emotional performance with Ukrainian musicians, Siuzanna Iglidan, and Mika Newton, whose sister is serving in the Ukrainian army. Refugee Lyuba Yakimchuk read a moving poem on stage. They all received a standing ovation from the crowd.