2022 Grammys: President Zelenskyy Says, “Our Musicians Wear Body Armor Instead of Tuxedos”

"The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people"

zelensky 2022 grammy awards ukraine russia cbs john legend free

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Recording Academy at the 2022 Grammys, reminding the international audience that since Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion, “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos.”

Before becoming the face of the Ukrainian resistance, Zelenskyy was a professional actor, writer, and comedian, and last week he pressed the Oscars to allow him to appear. Via The New York Times they balked, telling one of the organizers of the attempted cameo that, “They don’t want to overly politicize the show.”

Where the Academy Awards showed a concern for politics, the Recording Academy came through. Zelenskyy appeared in a pre-taped video, speaking as fluently in English as he has often spoken in Ukrainian and Russian. He said,

“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’ll 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.”

Afterwards, John Legend took the Grammys stage to perform his new song, “Free.” He was joined by singer and actress Mika Newton, whose sister is serving in the Ukrainian army, as well as the poet Lyuba Yakimchuk, who fled the heavily contested Donbas region just days ago. While Ukraine seems to have rebuffed Russia from many of the western cities, including its capital Kyiv, the Donbas seems likely to be absorbed into Russia, and Yakimchuk may never be able to go home again.

Check out Zelenskyy’s full remarks, as well as the subsequent performance, below. Our full Grammys coverage can be seen here.

The Grammys also saw performances from Silk Sonic, Billie EilishBTSOlivia RodrigoBrandi CarlileLil Nas X, and Jon Batiste, among others.among others.


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