The 2022 Oscars were criticized for what some saw as a somewhat muted and indirect response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the 2022 Grammys plan a more direct response.
The 64th Annual Grammy Awards telecast, to be held Sunday (April 3) in Las Vegas, will feature a segment meant to raise awareness about the war in Ukraine. It will include opportunities for viewers to take action and contribute to the global “Stand Up for Ukraine” campaign.
On Saturday (April 2), the Recording Academy announced its partnership with Global Citizen, one of the key players in the “Stand Up for Ukraine” campaign.
“We are heartbroken by the situation in Ukraine, yet still moved by the resilient spirit on display there every day,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. “We hope the segment inspires our worldwide audience to get involved to support these critical humanitarian efforts.”
Jack Sussman, CBS’ executive VP of specials, said an in interview on Monday, “I think we have to acknowledge what’s going on in the world today. He added, “It’s part of our responsibility.” Sussman promised that the segment would be “emotional and engaging.”
The Grammy telecast has a history of responding to current events with timely segments. In the wake of 2010’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige and David Foster performed Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” In 2018, following the mass shooting at the Route 91 festival in Las Vegas and a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne sang Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”
The Grammy telecast has also responded in timely fashion to personal tragedies. One day after Whitney Houston’s sudden death in 2012, Jennifer Hudson sang Houston’s signature hit “I Will Always Love You.” In 2020, the very day basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, show host Alicia Keys teamed with Boyz II Men to sing their hit “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
Amy Schumer, one of the Oscars’ three co-hosts, and two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn, publicly called on the Oscars to invite Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak either by satellite or in pre-taped form. The Oscars instead called for a moment of silence.
The Oscar commemoration was wrapped around Reba McEntire’s performance of the nominated song “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days. The country star’s performance was introduced by Mila Kunis, who stars in the film.
Kunis, who was born in Ukraine, addressed the struggle her home country is currently facing. “Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted,” the actress said. “Yet when you witness the strength of those facing such devastation, it’s impossible not to be moved by their resilience. One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”
At the conclusion of McEntire’s performance, a message appeared on the screen. “We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” the statement read. “While film is an important avenue for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water, and emergency services. Resources are scarce, and we — collectively as a global community — can do more. We ask you to support Ukraine in any way you are able. #StandWithUkraine.”
Zelenskyy recently appealed to the international community on behalf of his citizens who have been displaced and injured by the war, saying, “On April 9, the biggest online event ‘Social Media Rally’ will support people who were forced to flee Ukraine. I’m inviting everybody: musicians, actors, athletes, businessmen, politicians, everybody. Everyone who wants to join this movement and ‘Stand Up for Ukraine.'”
Global Citizen has played a key role in organizing the April 9 “Stand Up for Ukraine” event, pledging to help mobilize funding to support humanitarian efforts for Ukraine, and to show support to refugees everywhere. Hundreds of musicians and artists have pledged to join the global social rally and urge world leaders to commit to aiding refugees.
“There is no doubt that the conflict in Ukraine has led to a humanitarian crisis — members of Global Citizen saw this ourselves at the Ukrainian-Polish border,” Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said in a statement. “Millions have fled their homes, with millions more likely on their way. Global Citizen has a history of responding rapidly to humanitarian crises, and this is no different. We’re calling for an immediate end to this crisis, and the provision of immediate financing to support refugee relief efforts not just in Ukraine but around the world.”
The Recording Academy will present the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday live from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. The show will air on CBS and will stream live and on demand on Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET/5–8:30 p.m. PT.