'Tell our story': Zelenskyy calls on musicians to support Ukraine in Grammys speech

4 April 2022, 06:18 | Updated: 4 April 2022, 06:37

Zelenskyy delivered a speech at the Grammys ahead of a performance by John Legend.
Zelenskyy delivered a speech at the Grammys ahead of a performance by John Legend. Picture: Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on musicians to support his country in "any way you can, but not silence" during a Grammys speech.

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It came after the president said "mothers of Russian soldiers" should see the aftermath of the mass killings in liberated Ukrainian towns.

He told attendees at the awards ceremony that music would "break through" the silence caused by the destruction of Russian forces across his country.

The Kremlin's assault on Ukraine continues to rage on and the death toll of civilians continues to climb, with the United Nations estimating the casualties to be in the thousands.

A special performance by John Legend, featuring words by Lyuba Yakimchuk, a poet from Donbas in Ukraine, paid tribute to those caught in the ongoing conflict.

It was preceded by Mr Zelenskyy's pre-recorded speech, in which he also said he "had a dream" that the people of Ukraine could be as free as those on the Grammys stage.

Mr Zelenskyy said: "The war. What's 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 will 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 war doesn't let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence."

Read more: 'Look what you raised': Zelenskyy says Russian mothers should be shown Bucha 'genocide'

Read more: Two Russian soldiers die after eating poisoned 'pies' given as gifts by Ukrainian citizens

He continued: "Our musicians wear body armour 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.

"We defend our freedom 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 TV. Support us in any way you can. But not silence.

"And then peace will come. To all our cities the war is destroying...They are legends already. But I have a dream of them living. And free.

"Free like you on the Grammys stage."

The Recording Academy later tweeted: "Our hearts and our stage hold a special place for the people of Ukraine."

Mr Zelenskyy was previously rumoured to be making an appearance at the Oscars last weekend, with Amy Schumer revealing she had pitched the idea to organisers, but he did not.