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Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, presented the inaugural Song for Social Change Special Merit Award to Iranian singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour at the 2023 Grammy Awards.
“A song can unite, inspire and ultimately change the world,” Biden said. “I am honored to announce the first winner of the Recording Academy’s best song for social change to Shervin Hajipour.”
He received the honor for his hit “Baraye,” a protest song he wrote that became an anthem of protests across Iran as people longed for change. Biden said a video of the song that appeared on his Instagram was viewed more than 40 million times in less than 48 hours. She added, “This song became the anthem of the Mahsa Amini protests, a powerful and poetic poem for freedom and women’s rights.”
Shortly after the song went viral in 2022, Hajipour was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence. He is currently released on bail as he awaits trial.
“This song continues to resonate around the world with its powerful theme – Women, Life, Freedom,” Biden concluded. “Congratulations Shervin and thank you for your song.”
Out of submissions from more than 130,000 people, “Baraye” was selected by a blue ribbon committee and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees.
This wasn’t the only politically tinged moment during the 2023 Grammys. Other political commentaries at the ceremony involved jokes surrounding the Chinese balloon, Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. George Santos.
As Bad Bunny, who won best música urbana album for Un Verano Sin Ti, kicked off the Grammys, host Trevor Noah, joked, “That album is so fire it makes Trump want to learn Spanish, that’s what it does.”
The comedian also shared comments about the suspected Chinese spy balloon that the U.S. military shot down Saturday over the Atlantic Ocean. “My job is to be your eyes, your ears,” he added. “I’ll be floating around this room. Think of me like a Chinese spy balloon, that’s what I’m doing right now, gathering all the information you want.”
Earlier Sunday, during a nontelevised Premiere Ceremony, hosted by Randy Rainbow, the comedian poked fun at George Santos, saying, “There will be no George Santos jokes at this performance.… Even though he has been nominated in the category of best pop vocal album. At least that’s what he told me.” The representative has faced criticism since being sworn in and is currently at the center of several investigations after being accused of lying about his education and professional history.
The 65th annual Grammy Awards, hosted by Trevor Noah, were held at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday. Find a full list of winners here.
Updated Monday, Feb. 6, 9:13 a.m.: Corrected a typo in “Women, Life, Freedom.”
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