Smith performed the song while a montage played of people who Smith says have “used their voice to create a better future”, including environmental activist Greta Thunberg, the late Shirley Chisholm, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The montage also opens with a tribute to all of the NHS frontline workers who have died fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Watch the full presentation below:
“It’s a beautiful night, we have a new President and Vice President and our democracy seems to be quite intact and just wish everyone a better year,” Smith said while introducing the presentation, which was put on in collaboration with CIRCA.
“2020 has been a Blakean year but I think the glad day is coming. This performance goes to everyone, it’s for everyone all over the world. Fred wrote it so that it might be embraced and it might inspire people globally, and it has. His wishes came true and may the wishes ring out in the New Year.”
Patti Smith has taken to performing ‘People Have The Power’ quite a bit recently, as part of her support of various political causes. She teamed up with guitarist Lenny Kaye to perform the song for New York City voters ahead of the election in November of last year.
In September of last year, she performed the song alongside R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe in conjunction with Climate Week NYC. The video of her performance, aired by climate action non-profit Pathway to Paris, also featured the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Joan Baez, Tony Hawk and more.
“I think the damage he has done is going to be felt for a long time,” she told The Guardian.
“It’s not going to be so easily healed because globally he has empowered people of a like mind.”