Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a powerful Grammys 2022 speech on Ukraine: ‘Support us’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared onscreen Sunday at the 2022 Grammy Awards to deliver a powerful speech about the war in his home country.
Before singer-songwriter John Legend launched into a moving tribute performance of a new song, “Free,” Zelensky spoke via video about the devastation Ukrainians have endured since Russia began invading that nation earlier this year.
Join The Times’ music team live from Las Vegas as we break down the 64th Grammy Awards, from the biggest winners to the most talked-about performances.
“The war. What’s more opposite to music?” he said. “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 will 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.”
During his Grammys set, Legend was joined by some Ukrainian performers, including Siuzanna Iglidan, originally from Odessa; Mika Newton, whose sister is serving in the Ukrainian army; and Lyuba Yakimchuk, who fled Ukraine days prior. Onstage, they wore either blue or gold — the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
On a massive screen behind the musicians flashed images of a bombed apartment building, a government building on fire, families crowded into a subway station used as a bomb shelter, children being loaded onto evacuation trains and a crying mother.
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“Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals — even to those who can’t hear them,” Zelensky continued in his statement. “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.”
The Grammys is the latest TV special to pay homage to Ukraine after the Academy Awards briefly acknowledged the invasion last week. At the Oscars, audience members observed a moment of silence while a message of solidarity materialized onscreen.
At the end of Legend’s musical tribute, Grammys viewers were encouraged to #StandUpForUkraine by donating to Global Citizen’s relief effort at ForUkraine.com.
“Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence,” Zelensky said. “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, like you on the Grammy stage.”
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