Taylor Swift dug deep to deliver a performance of a song she once said she would never sing live during Global Citizen’s “One World: Together At Home” concert.
The singer was one of the final acts in the Lady Gaga-curated televised event on Saturday night, which raised almost $128 million to combat the coronavirus outbreak in partnership with the World Health Organization and the United Nations.
Introduced by friend and late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, who said Swift “has already contributed so much,” the “Lover” singer launched into a stripped down version of the heartbreaking ballad “Soon You’ll Get Better” from her latest album.
A solemn Swift seemed to be holding back tears during the stirring rendition of the song, which was written about her mother’s ongoing cancer battle.
The “Cats” star previously told fans that she’d likely never perform “Soon You’ll Get Better” live, as it was devastating enough to write, let alone share with fans on a stage.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever play it live. It’s just really difficult for me,” she told fans last year. “It was hard to write. It’s hard to sing. It’s hard to listen to for me. But sometimes, music is like that. Sometimes it’s not just about stuff that was pleasant to feel.”
And given these unprecedented times, the song’s message rang true for fans across the world, including Lady Gaga herself, who praised Swift for “sharing this vulnerable moment with us.”
Swift first shared the news that her mother was battling an undisclosed form of cancer back in 2015.
Although Andrea Swift went into remission, the cancer returned for a second time last March, when Swift was filming the documentary “Miss Americana.” Earlier this year, Swift revealed that her mom had also been diagnosed with a brain tumor amid ongoing treatment.
“She was going through chemo, and that’s a hard enough thing for a person to go through,” Swift told Variety.
“While she was going through treatment, they found a brain tumor,” she said. “And the symptoms of what a person goes through when they have a brain tumor is nothing like what we’ve ever been through with her cancer before. So it’s just been a really hard time for us as a family.”
Letting her music speak for her, Swift didn’t offer up any words of her own during the televised concert, though she’s been anything but silent during the coronavirus outbreak.
After encouraging her millions of followers to practice social distancing, she donated thousands of dollars to individual fans facing financial hardships; contributed unspecified amounts to the World Health Organization and Feeding America; and stepped in to save a historic record store in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
She also recently canceled all of her live performances and appearances for the remainder of the year, citing public health concerns.
“Please, please stay healthy and safe,” Swift wrote on Twitter Friday. “I’ll see you on stage as soon as I can but right now what’s important is committing to this quarantine, for the sake of all of us.”
Watch the full benefit concert below: