Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared during the Grammys to deliver a passionate speech calling for action from viewers to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Speaking from a bunker in Kyiv, Zelensky appeared on video before John Legend’s performance of his brand-new track, “Free.” In his speech, Zelenskyy drew the connection between music, the importance of the medium and how it combats the silence that can lead to more death.
“The war, what’s more opposite to music?” Zelenskyy asked. “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 shlters, but alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again.
Zelenskyy delivers an impassioned video message at the Grammys: "Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded. In hospitals."pic.twitter.com/Wi9u7nZehe
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“The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence,” he continued. “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 said. “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.” He ended by reminding views of the importance of living free, “free like you on the Grammy stage.”
Russia’s attack on Ukraine upended all aspects of life in the country, including a thriving music community that had grown since the 2014 revolution. A number of Ukrainian artists discussed life during wartime recently with Rolling Stone.