The June 2017 release of Kesha’s Grammy-nominated single “Praying” marked the first new music we heard from the singer-songwriter in five years. The hiatus in her career came after a long and difficult legal battle with producer Dr. Luke that began in 2014. Among the charges, Kesha accused the producer of sexual assault, battery, and infliction of emotional stress. Controversially, the ruling was made against Kesha — causing her financial issues, keeping her contractually tied to the producer, and impacting her ability to continue making music.
Nevertheless, Kesha didn’t allow this traumatic experience — and the lack of industry support — to stop her. While Kesha has been fighting this battle since long before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements began, it’s important to speak about the profound symbolism of Kesha’s 2018 Grammys performance in context with them.
Kesha’s performance of “Praying” on the Grammy stage — surrounded by the Resistance Revival Chorus and some of music’s greatest women all dressed in white — wasn’t just a beautiful return to the awards show stage and a huge moment in her career. It’s also exactly the kind of performance we need right now in the era of #MeToo. Janelle Monáe’s speech right before Kesha’s performance declared that time’s up on pay inequality and abuse of power, and that only strengthened the impact of Kesha’s magic on stage.
Even with the current movements against sexual assault and harassment, it’s still difficult for survivors to come forward.
We tell victims of sexual abuse to be brave and seek justice, but it’s not that easy. Often, victims of sexual and physical abuse face situations in which their abusers have direct power over them — as Kesha experienced. Often, victims don’t think they can get away from their abusers’ control — or they don’t have the resources to fight back. They’re left feeling trapped and fearful of the repercussions they’ll face if they speak up or leave.
Seeing the hardships Kesha endured in order to expose her abuser — and knowing that she made it through to the other side — inspires the sort of hope that changes lives. Kesha’s transparency throughout her ordeal showed the world exactly how hard it is to stand up against an abuser.
Her strength on the Grammy stage showed survivors that fighting for truth can bring growth, relief, and peace.
The women who joined Kesha on stage expressed their solidarity with the survivor, singing the heartbreaking and inspiring lyrics to “Praying” as they stood by her side. As the emotional song came to an end, they all embraced a tearful Kesha and the Grammy audience thunderously applauded.
That moment mirrored something so important for survivors to know: There is a whole community who will be there for you. We will stand with you through your journey towards justice.
You’re not alone.
We can’t wait to see what Kesha does next in this new, freeing chapter of her life. We hope that her performance encourages more survivors to seek the support they need to find their own freedom, too.