The Oscars audience gave John Legend and Common a standing ovation after their performance of “Glory” on Sunday, which preceded the duo’s win for Best Original Song.
Stars rose to their feet to honor the musical duo for their ballad, which headlines the soundtrack of Ava DuVernay’s historical drama Selma.
Supporters in the crowd – including Selma actress Oprah Winfrey and Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen – looked up at the duo onstage with tearful, proud expressions. Cameras also caught David Oyelowo and Chris Pine, who were in the audience, with tears streaming down their faces.
In his impassioned acceptance speech, Legend mentioned incarceration statistics before concluding, “March on.”
Although the duo also performed “Glory” at the Grammys, they made sure to bring new creative elements to their Oscar-night performance.
“The Oscars is the mountaintop,” Common said on the red carpet before the show. “We will be at the mountaintop with this performance.”
Common, 42, reached out to the “All of Me” singer to put together the collaboration in October. After the duo landed on a title, Legend experimented with gospel-inspired sounds for the Selma anthem.
“He threw out some title ideas, and one of them was glory,” Legend, 36, said in January. “As soon as I heard that word, it inspired me to write the chords.”
The Oscars are the last major awards season stop for the duo after an already successful round of nominations and honors. The Grammy winners took home a Golden Globe, closed the Grammys with their emotional ballad and have been considered the front runners for Best Original Song.
Although the song and the film itself received well-deserved nods, Selma director DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr., were considered shocking snubs.
When they made the official performance announcement in January, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron described Legend and Common as “artists who have always lifted our spirits and made us think.”
“The Oscar stage is that much more profound because of their presence and we welcome them,” the producers said.
The 2015 Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris from the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles, are airing live on ABC.