Sting delivered a solo acoustic guitar rendition of his Oscar-nominated piano ballad “The Empty Chair” at the 2017 ceremony. The song, which was co-written by composer J. Ralph, appears in the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story about journalist James Foley, who was killed by ISIS.
Seated on a stool and illuminated by a soft spotlight, the former Police singer crooned the fragile lyrics – “Some days I’m strong; some days I’m weak/ Some days I’m so broken, I can barely speak” – over hushed, fingerpicked chords. After the brief performance, a backdrop revealed a poignant Foley quote in tribute to the late reporter: “If I don’t have the moral courage to challenge authority … we don’t have journalism.”
Sting has been nominated three previous times for Best Original Song. His first nomination was for “My Funny Friend and Me” from The Emperor’s New Groove and most recent was “You Will Be My Ain True Love” from Cold Mountain. Last year, J. Ralph was up in the category for the track “Manta Ray” alongside Anohni from the documentary Racing Extinction.
Sting’s Oscar nomination follows a return to rock with his album 57th and 9th. He also dabbled in theater with the musical The Last Ship.