In a rare year where John Legend wasn’t nominated for a Grammy Award, the EGOT winner still made his presence felt at the 2022 show by debuting his new song “Free” at the ceremony Sunday.
Legend honored Ukraine with the performance, appearing onstage at the piano following a statement from Volodymyr Zelensky. He kicked off the touching “Free,” a song he dropped earlier on Sunday, joined by Ukrainian singer Mika Newtown and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk. A statement calling for donations read across the screen following the performance.
A 12-time Grammy winner, Legend most recently received the Best R&B Album Award in 2021 for Bigger Love, the third time the singer won in that category. In fact, this year’s Grammys marks the first time since the 2018 show that Legend wasn’t up for at least one award.
Taking the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the Grammy performance was a preview of sorts for Legend’s own upcoming Love in Las Vegas residency, scheduled to begin later this month at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The singer has so far scheduled 24 gigs at the venue, spanning from April 22 to October 29.
On the night before Grammys, Legend was also honored at a pre-gala Black Music Collective event. “I’m proud to celebrate and honor and cultivate our music,” Legend said at the event. “Black music is and has been the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, the innovation behind so much of the world’s popular music. It doesn’t exist without us.”
Earlier this year, Legend sold the entire stake of his oft-nominated songwriting catalog and royalties rights to BMG and investment firm KKR for an undisclosed amount.