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Ukraine’s Zelensky makes surprise appearance at the Grammys

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards, urging viewers in pre-taped remarks to “fill the silence with your music.”

“What’s more opposite to music?” Zelensky asked on Sunday in the video reportedly filmed in recent days from a bunker in Kyiv. “The silence of ruined cities and killed people,” he said. 

“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,” he 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.”

The video appeared ahead of John Legend’s performance of his song, “Free.” Legend’s performance included images from the conflict and featured a poet from Donbas, Ukraine, Lyuba Yakimchuk, who recited words including, “Protect my motherland.”

“On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs,” Zelensky said before Legend took to the stage. “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. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence. And then peace will come.”

Zelensky has earned worldwide praise for his leadership — making frequent calls to action from the streets or inside bunkers in Kyiv — amid Russia’s invasion that began in February. Last month, Zelensky delivered a virtual address to members of Congress.

An appearance by Ukraine’s president had been considered as part of another high-profile Hollywood awards show a week earlier, but didn’t come to fruition. 

Oscars co-host Amy Schumer said she had floated to the show’s producers having the Ukrainian leader make an appearance last Sunday.

“I wanted to find a way to have Zelensky like satellite in, or make a tape or something, just because so many eyes get on us,” Schumer said. 

The Academy Awards instead aired a pro-Ukraine message during the ceremony, saying the global community “can do more” to help the country amid Russia’s military offensive.

Tags Amy Schumer Amy Schumer Grammys John Legend John Legend Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky

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