Zelenskyy Gives Powerful Speech and John Legend Debuts Song ‘Free’ to Honor Ukraine at Grammys

Hundreds of rich and famous people crowded the MGM Grand Garden Arena for music’s biggest night, but the Grammys’ highest-profile guest may very well have been Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy beamed into the ceremony before a performance of John Legend’s new anthem “Free,” delivering a touching message about the importance of music in impossible times.

“Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos,” Zelenskyy said. “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.”

This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Zelenskyy’s video was reportedly filmed from a secure Kyiv bunker within the last 48 hours, as Russian troops continued their assault on Ukraine. His speech teed into “Free,” which featured Legend on the piano, accompanied by three Ukrainian performers: Mika Newton on vocals, Siuzanna Iglidan on bandura (a Ukrainian folk instrument), and Lyuba Yakimchuk delivering spoken word poetry.

Zelenskyy’s speech comes on the heels of an almost-but-not-quite appearance at last week’s Oscars, when Sean Penn made headlines by telling reporters that he’d smelt his Oscar statues if the Academy didn’t invite Zelenskyy to speak. Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes took a different tack, saying of Zelenskyy, “I think he’s very busy right now. Hollywood, we can get a little full of ourselves, and we think that what we’re doing is all so important. And I understand that yeah, what we do, it reaches a lot of people. And we can persuade people, but also, just know your lane. You know what I’m saying? Know your lane.”

Here is Zelenskyy’s speech, in full:

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. 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.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

Leave a Comment