Fresh off the Super Bowl pregnancy reveal, Rihanna returned to the national stage at Sunday’s Academy Awards with a performance of her Oscar-nominated hit “Lift Me Up” from Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” .
Rihanna sang the emotional lyrics of the aspirational anthem from center stage at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood alongside a chorus of backing vocalists and an orchestra. It was the first performance at the Academy Awards for the singer, whose custom Maison Margiela outfit designed by John Galliano showed off her bare midriff.
“Lift Me Up” was a finalist for Best Original Song, which went to MM Keeravani’s “Naatu Naatu” and “RRR” Chandrabose. The Oscar nomination was the first for Rihanna, winner of nine Grammy Awards.
Rihanna, 35, co-wrote and recorded “Lift Me Up” as a tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who played the lead superhero in 2018’s “Black Panther” before his death from colon cancer in 2020. His character’s absence is a central plot of “Wakanda Forever”, which premiered in November.
( Oscars 2023: Full List of Winners (LIVE UPDATES) )
Rihanna’s nomination was one of five for “Wakanda Forever,” which won the award for costume design.
Costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who received the same honor for the original “Black Panther,” said during her acceptance speech that her mother died last week at the age of 101.
“This movie prepared me for this moment,” Carter said. “Chadwick, please take care of mom.”
Angela Bassett, who played the grieving Queen Mother Ramonda, was nominated for best supporting actress. Jamie Lee Curtis won that award for his performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
( The director of ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, stars in the tribute to Chadwick Boseman and moves on without him )
Sunday marked the second prime-time performance in a month for Rihanna, who headlined February’s Super Bowl halftime show with a medley of her greatest hits. Rihanna’s team confirmed her second pregnancy after the performance, nine months after the singer welcomed a son with her partner, Harlem-born rapper A$AP Rocky.
Other Best Original Song Oscar nominees included Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick”; “This Is A Life” by David Byrne and Ryan Lott from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”; and Diane Warren’s “Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman.”