It seems Okayplayers Common and John Legend were charged with bringing urgency and relevance to tonight’s Oscars 2015 Award ceremony, a night of many awkward and disappointing moments–as well as some thrilling ones. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the full recap (update: read it here) but suffice to say that Hollywood’s powers that be could not possibly have anticipated how successful Com and John Legend would be in carrying out their appointed task, delivering a powerful and stunningly arranged live rendition of “Glory”–their collaboration from the soundtrack of Ava DuVernay‘s MLK film Selma–which literally brought the house to tears. This was no Hollywood grandstanding either, as the revelatory choral performance stripped down to a minimally orchestrated solo from John Legend that allowed him to show off the vocal chops that made him famous in the first damn place, a goose bumps-inducing musical moment had many of the millions of non-actors watching at home emotional as well.
It didn’t hurt that the OKP duo followed the victorious performance with an actual win in the Best Song category–the only real nod to Selma, which was nominated in the Best Picture (but not Best Director category) in what many perceived as a snub from the Academy. Perhaps more importantly, adhering to the motto of ‘never let an Oscars speech go to waste’ John Stevens and Lonnie Lynn (as they were announced, using their given names) brought the film’s themes undeniably home to the stakes at play in 2015, noting that “the struggle for freedom and justice is real…we live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” Perhaps most strikingly, Legend pointed out that the Voting Rights Act which King and others fought for “50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country.”
Our heroes could not have made more eloquent, compelling use of their moment in the Hollywood spotlight–and in perhaps his only (?) good call of the night, host Neil Patrick Harris declared them to be the Awards Shows “MVPs.” With a slight amendment to Most Valuable (Okay)Players…we couldn’t agree more. Watch Common and John Legend make Oscar history (and bring David Oyelowo and Chris Pine to tears) with their rendition of “Glory” below, then scroll down for video of the full acceptance speech:
Following their performance, Common and John Legend take home the Oscar for Best Original Song. Watch the speech here.