Rihanna left the audience in awe during her performance at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday as she sang “Lift Me Up” from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, for which she earned her first-ever Oscar nomination. The singer wore a shimmering shirt and trouser pants set while she sang the ballad, which she co-penned with singer Tems, Oscar winner Ludwig Göransson, and director Ryan Coogler. The song is a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa in Black Panther and passed away in 2020 after a battle with colon cancer.
Rihanna’s emotional performance had her hitting every high note with power and grace. She received a standing ovation from the audience as she stood on a feathered platform, and the camera panned to her partner A$AP Rocky, who was cheering her on with a glass of champagne in hand.
Rocky was absent for the rehearsals as he was in New York, while Rihanna stayed in Los Angeles to prepare for her performance. However, he made it back in time to escort her to the awards show. Sources told ET that Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII halftime performance reignited her passion for live performances.
“Lift Me Up” is up for Best Original Song at the Oscars alongside Diane Warren’s “Applause,” Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand,” NTR and Ram Charan’s “Naatu Naatu,” and Son Lux, Mitski, and David Byrne’s “This Is a Life.”
Coogler shared with ET that the song drew inspiration from Göransson’s travels to record the track in five different countries and bring a worldwide feel to the song. Tems said in a statement that the song was inspired by lost loved ones, and Rihanna’s contribution to the track was a great honor for her.
Coogler also expressed his gratitude towards Rihanna and all the fantastic musicians who contributed to the soundtrack. He said that he did not get her to do anything, but he was thankful that she wanted to take part in the project.
The 2023 Academy Awards hosted by Jimmy Kimmel aired live on March 12, 2023, on ABC. Fans can visit ETonline for complete Oscars coverage, including all the night’s big winners.