The Oscar-winner, who has also won 10 Grammys, took to the Dolby Theatre stage and sent the audience to dreamland with a soulful mash-up of “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land.”
Dancers encircled Legend’s piano, an two even re-enacted the dancing in the sky scene from the musical.
The Oscars ceremony featured a star-studded lineup of performers which also included Justin Timberlake performing his song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls”; Lin-Manuel Miranda, who sang “How Far I’ll Go” in duet with Auli’i Cravalho from “Moana”; and Sting, who sang “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story.” All five songs are up for the best original song prize.
Viewers may have wondered how Legend would perform “City of Stars,” given that in the movie, the low-key yet powerful number is both sung as a solo by Ryan Gosling and then later in duet with Emma Stone.
Meanwhile, “Audition” is the movie’s emotional crescendo, through which a passionate Mia (Stone) hopes to win herself the part which will launch her dream acting career. However, on Oscars night, it was Legend who took over the live singing duties, including singing parts that are spoken in the film. The legendary performer (pardon the pun) who carried home the best original song award in 2015 for “Glory” from the movie “Selma,” also appears in “La La Land” as the lead singer and guitarist in Sebastian’s (Gosling) band. Legend provides one of “La La Land’s” many memorable musical set-pieces with his smooth performance of “Start A Fire,” a synth-jazz song which marks the beginning of the downward spiral in Mia and Sebastian’s relationship.