“Support us in any way you can,” he added. “Any, but no silence.”
After Zelensky’s speech, John Legend performed his song “Free,” featuring a Ukrainian singer, Mika Newton, and a poet, Lyuba Yakimchuk, who fled the country days ago.
Here’s Zelensky’s full speech:
The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of destroyed cities and murdered people. Our kids draw flying rockets, not shooting stars. More than 400 children were injured and 153 children died. And we’ll never see them sign. Our parents like to wake up in the morning in the bomb shelters. But alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we’ll be together again. The war does not let us choose who survives and who remains in eternal silence. Our musicians wear bulletproof vests instead of tuxedos. They sing for the wounded in hospitals, even 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 against Russia, which brings a terrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it in today to tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can. Any – but no silence. And then there will be peace. For all our cities the war destroys – Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol and others – they are already legends. But I dream that they are alive and free. Pretty like you on the Grammy stage.
Many in the music industry have made public statements against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and expressed support for the Ukrainian people. On Sunday night at the Grammys, the Recording Academy teamed up with Global Citizen to showcase its “Stand Up for Ukraine” initiative.
The three major record conglomerates — Sony, Warner Music and Universal Music — have suspended all activity in Russia in response to the war, along with the touring behemoth Live Nation, which released a statement saying the company will “cease work with all Russian-based suppliers.” Spotify has suspended its streaming service in Russia and closed its Moscow office.
How the war in Ukraine affects the cultural world
Valentin Silvestrov. Ukraine’s most famous living composer, Silvestrov, moved from his home in Kiev to Berlin, where he now resides. In recent weeks, his comforting music has taken on new meaning for listeners in his war-torn country.
Musicians have also pledged solidarity with Ukraine, canceling shows and taking to social media. Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Björk, the Killers, AJR, Iggy Pop and others withdrew from shows in the region. Pink Floyd and David Gilmour drew some of their music from digital providers in Russia and Belarus and wrote in a statement on Twitter that the move was an attempt “to assist the world by strongly condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
And artists have given benefit concerts all over the world. Arcade Fire held a last-minute benefit show in New Orleans in March and donated all proceeds from the pay-what-you-can event to an emergency fund for citizens in Ukraine. Days later, the band said they had raised more than $100,000 after donating the proceeds from additional shows in New York. Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Nile Rodgers and others played a benefit concert in England last week. During a fundraiser in New York where she performed with Gogol Bordello, a band with Ukrainian roots, Patti Smith announced a $50,000 donation to Doctors Without Borders on behalf of Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon.
Rachel Sherman reporting contributed.