Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise appearance at the Grammys on Sunday, calling for support for his country and asking industry leaders to “fill the silence” brought on by war with music.
Zelensky delivered his pre-taped message for a John Legend performance of the song “Free”, along with Ukrainian singer Mika Newton, musician Siuzanna Iglidan and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk.
“What is more contrary to music? The silence of devastated cities and murdered people,” Zelensky said.
“Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing for the wounded in hospitals – even for those who cannot hear them. But the music will still break through.”
“We defend our freedom to live, to love, to sound,” he said.
“In our country we are fighting against Russia, which with its bombs brings terrible silence. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music, fill it today to tell our story.”
His performance on the biggest night of music in the United States comes as a worldwide disgrace over allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine mounts, with the discovery of mass graves and corpses in cities near Kiev.
Zelensky directly blamed the leaders in Moscow for the “torture” and “murder” of citizens.
“Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can – any, but not silently,” he said in his Grammy message. “And then comes peace.”
“For all our cities the war is destroying – Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol and others: They are already legends, but they have a dream of life and freedom.”
“Free like you, on the Grammy stage.”
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