Apr 4, 2022 - Technology

Zelensky asks Americans not to stay silent in emotional Grammys cameo

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Grammys audience via video link on Sunday. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Americans in a pre-recorded video from a bunker in Kyiv to "support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence."

Why it matters: Celebrities urged the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to let Zelensky appear during the Oscars last week but ultimately chose to feature a moment of silence instead.

  • "Our hearts and our stage hold a special place for the people of Ukraine," The Recording Academy tweeted Sunday. The Academy worked with Global Citizen and the Stand Up For Ukraine campaign on the segment, per Vogue.

Details: Zelensky's speech was powerful and somber, comparing the sound of music to the bitter sounds of war.

  • "The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars," 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. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music! Fill it today. To tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV."

Between the lines: Zelensky's video was introduced by host Trevor Noah. Following Zelensky's speech, John Legend sang his ballad "Free," in a performance that featured Ukrainian singer Mika Newton, Ukrainian bandura player Siuzanna Iglidan and Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk to honor and recognize the war.

  • Legend and Newton wore all-blue outfits, while Iglidan wore a yellow dress. The performance featured images from the war in the background and Ukrainian flags.

The big picture: Zelensky's media savvy has helped him earn support from Western leaders. Since the start of the war, he has regularly appeared on shows and in interviews with American programs and journalists to push for support.

  • Earlier on Sunday, Zelensky appeared on CBS' flagship Sunday show, "Face the Nation" to slam Russia's war tactics, saying "this is genocide."
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