President Zelenskyy Gives Powerful Grammys Speech: ‘Our Musicians Wear Body Armor Instead of Tuxedos’

Published At: 04 April 2022 , 02:00 PM

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared at the 64th annual Grammy Awards to give a pre-taped speech amid Russia’s continued invasion of his country. An insider confirmed the appearance to Variety ahead of the Grammys broadcast. President Zelenskyy shot the video within the last 48 hours in a bunker in Kyiv. The video introduced John Legend’s performance about two hours into the show.

“The war. What is more opposite of music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people,” Zelenskyy said. “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.”

Zelenskyy 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. On our land, we are fighting Russia which brings horrible silence with its bombs. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today. Tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks and TV. But not silence.”

Prior to the 2022 Grammys telecast, it was unclear whether or not Zelenskyy would appear via satellite or a pre-taped video segment, if at all. Zelenskyy did not appear a week prior during the 2022 Oscars, despite much speculation around his appearance. The idea of Zelenskyy making an Oscars appearance was first floated by co-host Amy Schumer during an interview on “The Drew Barrymore Show.” Schumer said she pitched the ceremony’s producers on getting Zelenskyy involved.

Oscars co-producer Will Packer said at a press conference before the Oscars that a Zelenskyy appearance wasn’t yet out of the question, but the Ukrainian president did not appear during the ceremony. Sean Penn made headlines the day before the Oscars by telling CNN’s Jim Acosta that he would “smelt” his Oscars in public if the Academy elected against asking Zelenskyy to speak during the live telecast.

“There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give [Zelenskyy] an opportunity to talk to all of us,” Penn said. “It is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it. That is not me commenting on whether or not President Zelenskyy had wanted to… If the [Academy has] elected not to pursue the leadership in Ukraine, who are taking bullets and bombs for us, along with the Ukrainian children that they are trying to protect, then I think every single one of those people and every bit of that decision will have been the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history.”

Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes shut down the prospect of a Zelenskyy Oscars appearance on the red carpet, telling Variety, “I think he’s very busy right now. Hollywood, we can get a little full of ourselves, and we think that what we’re doing is all so important. And I understand that yeah, what we do, it reaches a lot of people. And we can persuade people, but also, just know your lane. You know what I’m saying? Know your lane.”

Read more: https://variety.com/2022/music/news/zelenskyy-grammys-speech-1235215969/