Janelle Monae's Time's Up Grammys Speech Will Bring Tears To Your Eyes
Leading into one of the night's most emotional moments, another singer took the stage to set the tone. Janelle Monae's Time's Up speech at the 2018 Grammys was beyond powerful, and the perfect segue into Kesha's "Praying" performance. While Monae's entire speech is worth a listen, there's one line in particular that stands out: "We come in peace, but we mean business."
Kicking off the speech, Monae stood in front of the Madison Square Garden audience and declared:
"Tonight I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman in solidarity with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry. Artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers, and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and human beings. We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: ‘Time’s Up.’"
While stars on the red carpet, such as Kelly Clarkson and Alessia Cara, spoke to the power of Time's Up — with many wearing white roses as a show of solidarity — this may be the most direct discussion of the subject yet. As explained on Time's Up's official Twitter, "A white rose symbolizes respect, pays homage to new beginnings and expresses hope for the future. We like the sound of that."
Monae then continued, explaining what exactly she and the entire movement are calling "Time's Up" on. As she explained,
"We says ‘Time’s Up’ for pay inequality. ‘Time’s Up’ for discrimination. ‘Time’s Up’ for harassment of any kind. And ‘Time’s Up’ for the abuse of power. Because you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So let’s. Let’s work together, women and men as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women."
Fans on Twitter couldn't help but applaud the powerful moment, shifting the spotlight to the need to end inequality and harassment across the entertainment industry — and beyond.
And it would be remiss to discuss Monae's speech without including the portion about the courageous woman she was introducing: Kesha. Monae said,
"And as artists so often do, our next performer embodies the great tradition of delivering important social messages through their music. This fearless two time Grammy nominee inspired so many of us including myself when she spoke her truth on her album Rainbow, which was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album tonight. Here to perform 'Praying,' joined by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, Bebe Rexha, Julia Michaels and the Resistance Revival Chorus, we are honored to stand with you and welcome you, Kesha."
Before everyone was taking a stand against sexual assault and harassment at the Golden Globes and in other public forums, Kesha was fighting her own battles publicly. Since 2014, she's been involved in various legal battles with Sony Music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, who she accused of alleged sexual assault and other abuse. (Gottwald has repeatedly denied the allegations and even filed a countersuit for defamation, though the lawsuit was later dismissed.)
No matter what she's gone through, Kesha has continued to rise above — and that's exactly what "Praying" embodies. She may not have taken home the Grammy for that song, but her performance is easily the highlight of the night. And Monae's powerful speech only added to the impactful moment.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.