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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Grammy Awards

"Fill the silence with your music"

By Joe Goggins

Volodomyr Zelensky, April 2022
Zelensky addressed the ceremony in Las Vegas. (Photo: President of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a video message to the 2022 Grammy Awards last night (April 3), urging the watching world to speak up on the ongoing invasion by Russia. 

In a pre-recorded message from his nation’s capital of Kyiv, he began: “What is more opposite to music? 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’ll 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 president continued. “The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence. Our musicians wear body armour instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.” 

“We defend our freedom,” Zelensky went on. “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 your TV.”

“Support us in any way you can,” he concluded. “Any – but not silence. And 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. Free like you on the Grammy stage.” 

The message was immediately followed by a performance from John Legend, who paid tribute to Ukraine with a new track, ‘Free’. He was joined on stage by an array of poets and artists from the besieged nation, on a song that includes the following lines: Lay down soldiers / Lay down those weapons / Let peace rush in.”

Also at the ceremony in Las Vegas, Foo Fighters notched up a hat-trick of wins, just days after pulling out of their scheduled performance due to the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins. Elsewhere, Jon Batiste and Olivia Rodrigo were among the big winners. You can see the complete list of winners here.