Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Appears At Grammys Via Video; How The Moment Came Together

Volodymyr Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky Sipa via AP Images

“The war. What’s more opposite to music?” asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky when he appeared on the Grammys telecast via video. A raspy-voiced Zelensky went on to an extended explanation of how war silences music and music can end war.

Deadline hears the segment was taped in a bunker two days ago and bounced around to various points to ensure that no one could trace the clip’s origins. Eventually, it landed in Las Vegas for the show.

“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,” he said.

“Anyway, we defend out freedom. To live. To love. To sound.”

“On our land, we are fighting Russia which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence,” he said before urging, “Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today, to tell our story. Support us in any way you can. Any, but not silence. And then peace will come.”

Zelensky ended by naming several Ukrainian cities saying, “I have dream of them living, and free. Free like you on the Grammy stage.”

What followed was a moving piece from John Legend, punctuated by photos of the Ukrainian people and a reading from a poet who had escaped from the country just days before.

On March 25, The New York Post claimed that President Zelensky was in talks to appear at the Oscars, but nothing ever came of it. Celebrities rallied for his appearance on the show, including Oscar co-host Amy Schumer, who mentioned the idea on The Drew Barrymore Show.

“I wanted to find a way to have Zelensky satellite in or make a tape or something, just because there are so many eyes on the Oscars,” Schumer said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to at least comment on a couple of things. I have some jokes that kind of highlight the sort of current condition.”

Sean Penn went so far as to say the Oscars must have Zelensky on the program — otherwise, viewers and guests should boycott the ceremony. He threatened to smelt his two statuettes in public if the Ukrainian president was not given time on the telecast.

Lynette Rice contributed to this report

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