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 credit for his hit “Baraye,” a protest song he wrote that became an anthem of protests across Iran as people craved change. Biden said a video of the song that appeared on his Instagram received more than 40 million views 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 pending trial.
“This song continues to resonate around the world with its powerful theme – women love freedom,” Biden concluded. “Congratulations Shervin and thank you for your song.”
From submissions from over 130,000 people, “Baraye” was selected by a blue ribbon committee and endorsed by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees.
This wasn’t the only politically-tinged moment at the 2023 Grammys. Other political commentary during the ceremony included jokes about the Chinese balloon, Donald Trump and U.S. Representative George Santos.
Like Bad Bunny, who won the best música urbana album Un Verano Sin Tikicking off the Grammys, host Trevor Noah quipped, “That album is so fiery Trump wants to learn Spanish, that’s what it does.”
The comedian also shared comments about the suspected Chinese spy balloon that the US military shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday. “My job is to be your eyes and your ears,” he added. “I will float around in this room. Think of me as a Chinese spy balloon, that’s what I’m doing right now, collecting all the information you want.
Earlier Sunday, at a non-televised premiere ceremony hosted by Randy Rainbow, the comedian poked fun at Santos, saying, “There will be no Geroge Santos jokes at this performance. … Even though he is nominated in the category best pop song album, or so he told me.” The rep 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 Sunday at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Find a full list of winners here.