ENTERTAINMENT

'Glory' Is The Inspiring, Oscar-Nominated Anthem We Need Now

02/16/2015 06:43 pm ET | Updated Feb 16, 2015
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

Twenty-five million viewers tuned in to watch Common and John Legend perform "Glory" during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8. At least 40 million people will likely watch the duo sing at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. In other words, a lot of people who never even saw "Selma" in theaters will still get to sample the film's message thanks to Common and Legend.

"There were many times when I wish I had the opportunity to perform at the Grammys, and I dreamed of being at the Oscars also, but I couldn't pick a better song and movie and co-artist to be able to do this with," Common told HuffPost Entertainment in an interview earlier this month. "This is what I want to do. This is what I dream of doing. I feel like we get the opportunity to have this platform, to deliver a message that's bigger than us and has a higher purpose. That's important."

The Oscar-nominated "Glory" acts as an emphatic statement at the end of Ava DuVernay's "Selma," a drama about Martin Luther King Jr.'s march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama in the name of equal voting rights for all black men and women. But rather than just rehash the history laid out in the film, the song connects "Selma" with today's current events.

"One son died, his spirit is revisiting us," Common raps in the track. "True and living, living in us. Resistance is us. That's why Rosa sat on the bus. That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up."

"Knowing what we're singing about is inspiring people as they march today in this present time, and knowing millions of people will watch the Oscars is such a huge honor," Legend said to HuffPost Entertainment. "It could not be a better combination of circumstances for us."

Legend and Common worked on the song together -- Legend singing the hook, with Common providing the verses -- but it was DuVernay who pushed them throughout the process. As Common said in his acceptance speech at the Critics Choice Awards in January after "Glory" won Best Original Song, the director wanted a track that recalled "We Are the World." "No pressure, right Ava?" he joked.

"Usually when we make songs, if it's a great song, I'm going to keep it on my album," Common said. "But now we have to please the director. So it was fun for me, but then also to have another person be like, 'We need We Are The World.' That drives you to a new level. I enjoyed that. I liked those challenges."

Fortunately, the pressure paid off: "Glory" is so popular that it closed out the Grammy awards, putting Common and Legend ahead of stand-out acts such as Kanye West, Madonna and even Beyoncé. If it wins Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, no one will be the least bit surprised.

"I know, for me, when I heard what John was singing, it moved me as an artist," Common said of the track. "Just listening to what he was singing, it made me want to do something better in life. It inspired me."

On Sunday, it'll inspire millions more.

Also on HuffPost:

  • 1 "Birdman"
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
  • 2 "Boyhood"
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Richard Linklater), Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), Best Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke), Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
  • 3 "Selma"
    Nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song.
  • 4 "American Sniper
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing
  • 5 "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Wes Anderson), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Film Editing.
  • 6 "The Imitation Game"
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Morten Tyldum), Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score.
  • 7 "The Theory of Everything"
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Felicity Jones), Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.
  • 8 "Whiplash"
    Nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Supporting Actor (JK Simmons).
  • 9 Bradley Cooper
    Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Actor in "American Sniper."
  • 10 Wes Anderson
    Omar Vega/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Director for "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
  • 11 Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
    Omar Vega/Invision/AP
    Nominated for best Director for "Birdman"
  • 12 Richard Linklater
    Todd Williamson/Invision/AP
    Nominated for best Director for "Boyhood"
  • 13 Bennett Miller
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for best Director for "Foxcatcher"
  • 14 Morten Tyldum
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for best Director for "The Imitation Game"
  • 15 Marion Cotillard
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Actress in “Two Days, One Night.”
  • 16 Felicity Jones
    Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Actress in "The Theory of Everything."
  • 17 Julianne Moore
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Actress in "Still Alice."
  • 18 Rosamund Pike
    Michael Buckner via Getty Images
    Nominated for Best Actress in "Gone Girl."
  • 19 Reese Witherspoon
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Actress in "Wild."
  • 20 Steve Carrell
    Dave Kotinsky via Getty Images
    Nominated for Best Actor in "Foxcatcher."
  • 21 Benedict Cumberbatch
    JB Lacroix via Getty Images
    Nominated for Best Actor in "The Imitation Game."
  • 22 Michael Keaton
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Actor in "Birdman."
  • 23 Robert Duvall
    Frazer Harrison via Getty Images
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "The Judge."
  • 24 Ethan Hawke
    Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "Boyhood."
  • 25 Edward Norton
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "Birdman."
  • 26 Mark Ruffalo
    Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "Foxcatcher."
  • 27 JK Simmons Portrait Session
    Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
    American actor in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize-winning film "Whiplash" J.K. Simmons poses for a portrait, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)
  • 28 Patricia Arquette
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "Boyhood."
  • 29 Laura Dern
    Steve Granitz via Getty Images
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "Wild."
  • 30 Keira Knightley
    Steve Granitz via Getty Images
    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "The Imitation Game."
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