Rihanna went from the Super Bowl to the Academy Awards this year, delivering an uplifting performance of the Oscar-nominated song “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” at Sunday’s awards show. And while by necessity she had to lip sync at her recent halftime appearance, many in the audience at the Dolby Theatre and at home were struck by the power and emotiveness of her live vocals.

“Lift Me Up” is Rihanna’s first single after a long drought of new material being released, and it earned the singer her first Oscar nod. The music was created by Rihanna, Tems, “Black Panther 2” director Ryan Coogler and composer Ludwig Göransson, with Tems and Coogler penning the lyrics. 

At last month’s Super Bowl halftime show, her first live performance since the 2018 Grammys, Rihanna sang some of her biggest hits, including “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl (in the World),” “Work” and “We Found Love.” “Lift Me Up” was not on the setlist. Rihanna also made waves for revealing her second pregnancy while on stage.

On March 5, Rihanna shared an Instagram video of her eldest son, born last May, with a video of him watching the “Lift Me Up” video. The post had the caption: “My son when he found out his sibling is going to the Oscars and not him.” 

In an essay for Variety, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” composer Göransson explained collaborating with Rihanna, Tems and Coogler on “Life Me Up.” “For the first time in six years, Rihanna returned to the studio, and I had never heard her voice sound like this before. There was a new kind of conviction and softness in her sound. She took the chorus of the song to a new level,” Göransson said. “I imagined Shuri (Letitia Wright) singing to her brother the same way Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) sang to her son. After three weeks of meticulously fine-tuning every word, the feeling and melody line that Rihanna added to the chorus was a feeling of timelessness. It felt like the past, present and future all came together at the same time.”

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