Standing up in front the industry that doubted, shunned, and abandoned her during the most painful period of her life, two-time Grammy nominee Kesha led some of music’s most powerful women in a stirring rendition of her moving single “Praying” at the 2018 Grammy Awards. Dressed in all white, Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, and Julia Michaels joined Kesha on stage at Madison Square Garden. Together, they delivered an unforgettable performance and a powerful message about abuse, power, and the Time’s Up movement.
Kesha sang her heart and soul out with backup — both vocal and emotional — from a group of all-star female vocalists who made their support for the “Praying” singer — and abuse victims around the world — clear.
Before the Harvey Weinstein revelations, before the hashtag #MeToo started trending, and before stars took to the red carpet to wear Time’s Up pins and white roses, Kesha stood up to her abuser when she sued her producer Dr. Luke, a.k.a. Lukasz Gottwald, for multiple offenses — including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The four-year battle became the hardest time in the singer’s life, one that she is only now just beginning to heal from with the help of her music.
In a Lenny Letter about her emotional single, Kesha called “Praying” a song “about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone. It’s also about hoping everyone, even someone who hurt you, can heal.” That message took on a whole new meaning during her empowering Grammys performance, where she sang her heart out surrounded by powerful women who clearly had her back. (See: after the performance, when Kesha begins to cry and is immediately embraced by her fellow songstresses on stage.)
Many people at home watching took to Twitter to share how powerful it was to see Kesha, Lauper, Cabello, Day, and Michaels sing in solidarity with each other, and survivors everywhere:
Don’t feel guilty if you, like Kesha and half of the crowd at the Madison Square Garden, felt yourself getting choked up at this historic moment. The women on stage did more than just a great performance of an emotional song: they showed the world they were rallying not only behind Kesha, but behind anyone who has suffered at the hands of powerful men.
Janelle Monáe introduced “Praying” with a powerful speech about the #TimesUp movement and the music industry’s responsibility to “undo a culture that does not do us well.”
On theme with the bold performance she was introducing, Monáe said,
For so many people watching tonight, seeing Kesha make a defiant comeback with the support of such important women in the industry was an unforgettable moment that made them feel less alone. She may have been robbed of both of her 2018 Grammys, but with her heartwarming collaboration on “Praying,” Kesha won best performance of the night, and quite possibly the most important performance of the year.