By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Volodymyr Zelensky urged musicians to support Ukraine in “any way you can, but not silence” in a special message played at the 64th Grammys.
The Ukrainian president said music would “break through” the silence caused by the destruction of Russian forces across his country.
It comes as the Kremlin’s assault on Ukraine rages on and the death toll of civilians continues to climb, with the United Nations estimating the casualties to be in the thousands.
Mr Zelensky appeared via video link ahead of a special performance by John Legend, featuring words by Lyuba Yakimchuk, a poet from Donbas in Ukraine.
We’re honored to welcome Ukrainian musicians #SiuzannaIglidan, @Mika_Newton, and poet #LyubaYakimchuk to the #GRAMMYs.
Our hearts and our stage hold a special place for the people of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/CFV1bcR4hN
— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (@RecordingAcad) April 4, 2022
“The war. What’s more opposite to music. The silence of ruined cities and killed people,” Mr Zelensky said.
“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.
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 Zelensky was 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.