Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, addressed the Grammy Awards in a video, giving an emotional plea for support in his country’s war against Russia.
“What is more opposite to music?” Zelensky said. “The silence of ruined cities and killed people.”
The leader’s aides had lobbied for an appearance at the Academy Awards last week, but organizers did not commit to it, drawing some backlash.
In his brief address, Zelensky, an actor turned wartime leader, emphasized that many of the musicians in his country were fighting in the battle against the Russian invasion.
“Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos,” he said. “They sing to the wounded in hospitals. Even to those who can’t hear them.”
“Support us in any way you can,” he added. “Any, but not silence.”
After Zelensky’s address, John Legend performed his song “Free,” featuring a Ukrainian singer, Mika Newton, and a poet, Lyuba Yakimchuk, who fled the country days ago.
Here is Zelensky’s full speech:
Many in the music industry have made public statements opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and showing support for the Ukrainian people. On Sunday night at the Grammys, the Recording Academy teamed up with Global Citizen to highlight its “Stand Up for Ukraine” initiative.
The three major record conglomerates — Sony, Warner Music and Universal Music — have all suspended operations 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 any and all Russian-based suppliers.” Spotify suspended its streaming service in Russia and closed its office in Moscow.
How the Ukraine War Is Affecting the Cultural World
Valentin Silvestrov. Ukraine’s best-known living composer, Mr. Silvestrov made his way from his home in Kyiv to Berlin, where he is now sheltering. In recent weeks, his consoling music has taken on new significance for listeners in his war-torn country.
Anna Netrebko. The superstar Russian soprano faced backlash in Russia after she tried to distance herself from President Vladimir V. Putin with a statement condemning the war. She had previously lost work in the West because of her past support for Mr. Putin.
Olga Smirnova. A principal soloist at the Bolshoi Ballet since 2016, Ms. Smirnova announced that she had joined the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, becoming one of the most significant Russian cultural figures to leave the country because of its invasion of Ukraine.
Tugan Sokhiev.text: The Russian conductor, who recently resigned from two high-profile posts after facing pressure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will no longer lead a series of concerts with the New York Philharmonic because of the war.
Paavo Järvi. The Estonian American conductor was in Moscow, leading rehearsals for an engagement with a Russian youth orchestra, when Russia began its attack on Ukraine. When he decided to stay there not to disappoint the players, many criticized his choice.
Valery Gergiev. The star Russian maestro and vocal supporter of Mr. Putin was removed from his post as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic after he refused to denounce Russia’s actions in Ukraine. His abrupt dismissal came three years before his contract was set to expire.
Alexei Ratmansky. The choreographer, who grew up in Kyiv, was preparing a new ballet at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow when the invasion began, and immediately decided to leave Moscow. The ballet, whose premiere was set for March 30, was postponed indefinitely.
Musicians have also pledged solidarity with Ukraine, canceling shows and speaking out on social media. Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Björk, the Killers, AJR, Iggy Pop and others pulled out of shows in the region. Pink Floyd and David Gilmour yanked some of their music off digital providers in Russia and Belarus, writing in a statement on Twitter that the move was an effort “to stand with the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
And artists have hosted benefit concerts across the globe. Arcade Fire held a last-minute benefit show in New Orleans in March, donating all proceeds of the pay-what-you-can event to a relief fund for citizens in Ukraine. Days later, the band said it raised over $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. At a New York fund-raiser where she performed alongside 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 contributed reporting.