As the clocked pinged the onset of the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday (Feb. 9), singer/songwriter Janelle Monae performed a musical crash course on this year’s motion picture nominees inside the Dolby Theatre. Alongside actor/singer Billy Porter, their vocal take on classic melodies from Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” to the theme song for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood received a standing ovation from the crowd.
“I’m so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist, telling stories,” she said before wishing everyone a “Happy Black History Month.” Monae also gave a nod to women filmmakers who were underrepresented at this year’s showcase. According to Buzzfeed News, only one woman has won the Oscar for Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009. Only five women have been nominated in this category since the Oscars began in 1929.
The “Come Alive” singer also brought attention to the #OscarsSoWhite statement that’s been a public point of conversation since it was created by activist April Reign in 2015. “It’s time to come alive because the Oscars is so white!” Monae stated during her performance. Actress Cynthia Erivo, who was nominated for her role as the titular character in Harriet, was the only person of color to receive a nod in one of the big categories (Best Actress).
In another public statement, Monae’s background dancers were costumed in outfits featured in films that weren’t recognized by the Academy this year. Those movies include Queen & Slim, Us, and Dolemite.
Watch the full performance below.