Most handsome and talented duo John Legend and Common are officially saving the Academy Awards with their Oscar-nominated song "Glory" from Ava DuVernay's Selma: The pair won a Golden Globe for the song earlier this month, and on Tuesday, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced John Legend and Common would perform at the Academy Awards ceremony on February 22.
At the ceremony, "Glory" is competing for Best Original Song with Adam Levine's "Lost Stars" from Begin Again — which Levine will also perform at the 2015 Oscars ceremony. So far, no other performances have been confirmed, but the other great songs recognized in the Best Original Song category are Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond's "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell.. I'll Be Me, Rita Ora's "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights, and "Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie. For what it's worth, there have been rumors that Rita Ora will take the stage.
News of the "Glory" performance is great, of course, and for a few reasons: Not only is "Glory" a beautiful track, but the gravity of the song and the gravity of Selma itself is what makes the thought of Common and John Legend's upcoming performance so powerful. When the two accepted the award for Best Song at the Golden Globes, Common gave an inspiring speech about how working on DuVernay's film about Martin Luther King, Jr. had changed his life completely. He said to a moved audience of his peers, "The first day I stepped on the set of Selma, I began to feel like this was bigger than a movie... Selma has awakened my humanity."
The video for "Glory" Legend and Common released embraced that same spirit of triumph and resilience in the face of ugly adversity; it spliced the two playing the song with powerful and vivid scenes from the film. A performance from the two at the Oscars will not only diversify the ceremony, but remind both the audience and the viewers that the racial tensions in America that Selma highlighted are ever-present and, as Common said, much bigger than the film itself.
The performance could also be the source of an uncomfortable (but necessary) spotlight cast on the Oscars' snub of Selma; DuVernay was not nominated for the Best Director award, nor was leading man David Oyelowo recognized for the Best Actor category — shocking considering he took on the seemingly unconquerable task of capturing MLK's unerring strength on the screen. Though Selma was nominated in the Best Picture category, the absence of DuVernay and Oyelowo in their individual categories has sparked a conversation not only about this years' Oscars being whitest ceremony in 17 years, but also about race and Hollywood in general. The cast has not been silent about the lack of recognition for the film: star Lorraine Toussaint commented that she was glad "they were in the room," but that Hollywood needs to be more responsible about their representation.
Above all, though, Common and Legend's imminent performance provides some sense of hope; it's bound to be moving, not only as an individual contained performance, but a timely one that will inject a sense of urgency and social awareness into the ceremony. It's definitely swaying me to watch the ceremony, and I'm sure I'm not alone.