Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appeared in a video message at the Grammy Awards to ask for support in telling the story of Russia’s invasion of his nation.
During the pre-recorded message that aired on the show on Sunday (US time), Mr Zelensky likened the invasion to a deadly silence threatening to extinguish the dreams and lives of the Ukrainian people, including children.
“Our musicians wear body armour instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them,” he said in English.
“But the music will break through anyway.”
The Recording Academy, with its partner Global Citizen, prior to the ceremony highlighted a social media campaign called Stand Up For Ukraine to raise money and support during the humanitarian crisis.
“Fill the silence with your music. Fill it 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 not silence. And then peace will come to all our cities,” Mr Zelensky said.
Following Mr Zelensky’s message, John Legend performed his song Free with Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton, and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk, as images from the war were shown on screens behind them.
Later, Jon Batiste won album of the year for We Aregiving him five trophies, while Silk Sonic took both record and song of the year and newcomer Olivia Rodrigo claimed three awards.
Batiste honoured the artists he beat.
“The creative arts are subjective,” he said. “Be you.”
The multigenre performer also won for his song Crythe video for Freedom and his work with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the soundtrack for Soul.
“I just put my head down and I work on the craft every day. I love music,” he said.
There was also success for Australian outfit RÜFÜS DU SOL, who won the Grammy for best electronic/dance recording for Alive.
R&B supergroup Silk Sonic took home four awards, including record of the year.
Rodrigo collected three trophies, including the coveted best new artist honour. That win put her in esteemed company, including Carly Simon, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tom Jones, the Beatles and Billie Eilish.
A veteran of the High School Musical series, Rodrigo was the breakout music star of 2021, leading with her massive viral hit Drivers License and following with the single Good 4 U and the aching album Sourwhich took best pop vocal album.
“This is my biggest dream come true,” she said after her best new artist win. She thanked her parents for supporting her dreams, which at one point involved being an Olympic gymnast and quickly veered toward music.
Silk Sonic – the all-star union of Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak – opened the Grammys in Las Vegas with their high-energy, infectious fix of retro soul and funk by performing their 777. They returned to the stage a short time later to collect the song of the year trophy for Leave the Door Open.
The win helps Mars tie the record for most song of the year wins. He had previously won for 24K Magic.
By the time the televised show started, Batiste has already taken home four Grammy Awards, including his first ever.
He won for best American roots performance, best American roots song, best music video and tied with Carlos Rafael Rivera for best score soundtrack for visual media.
His song Freedom in the music video category beat several other tough competitors, including Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and Eilish. All the awards were handed out during a pre-telecast ceremony.
Batiste entered the Grammys as the leading nominee with 11 nominations.
The Foo Fighters won three awards, but were not there to pick up their trophies following the recent death of drummer Taylor Hawkins.
An extended tribute to Hawkins played before the show’s In Memoriam segment honouring artists and music industry figures who have died.
Eilish paid homage to Hawkins during her performance by sporting a black T-shirt with his image. She stepped onstage in an upside-down house along with her brother Finneas before stepping into the rain to perform the title track from her Happier Than Ever.
TJ Osborne, who came out as gay last year, fought back tears as he and his brother accepted a Grammy for the Brothers Osborne song Younger Me. He noted the song was inspired by his coming out.
This year’s Grammys ceremony was shifted from Los Angeles to Las Vegas because of rising COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant in January, with organisers citing “too many risks” to hosting the performance-filled show at the time.
Tony Bennett extended his record as the artist with the most traditional pop vocal album with 14 wins with Love for Sale, a duet album with Lady Gaga.