July 29, 2016
By Rianna Lee
Earlier this year, singer-songwriter Kesha Sebert (a.k.a. Ke$ha) made headlines with an ongoing legal battle against her producer and alleged abuser Dr. Luke. Several months after a New York courtroom left her in contract limbo with Dr. Luke and his business subsidiaries, she is back with a new project and tour that is sure to make a statement to those who thought they could silence her.
In late 2014, Kesha filed a suit in California to void her contracts with Dr. Luke and his business affiliates, allow her to work with other labels, and receive damages after Dr. Luke had “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused [her] to the point where [she] nearly lost her life,” with the intention of being able to “maintain complete control over her life and career.” The suit also claims that, “Ms. Sebert wholly believed that Dr. Luke had the money and power to carry out his threats; she therefore never dared talk about, let alone report, what Dr. Luke had done to her.” (Three years prior, Kesha testified in a deposition that Dr. Luke had never made advances at her.)
When Dr. Luke denied all claims of abuse, and even countersued Kesha and her mother in New York, the case became a battle of he-said-she-said. Due to the misogynistic realities of our legal system which we have seen time and time again (see also: Stanford rape case), the “he-said” usually ends up winning out. The case is still ongoing, but Kesha is currently stuck in legal limbo when it comes to making new music, as she legally cannot work with other labels and refuses to work with and make money for the man who continues to manipulate and control her.
But Kesha, in her usual spunky and rebellious feminist spirit, refuses to let her abuser silence her. She has played numerous concerts at universities and various events, including a performance for Pittsburgh Pride last month. She captioned a Facebook video from a show she played in late 2015, saying, “Don’t worry NO ONE will ever shut me up.” Zedd and Kesha worked together on a song, True Colors, about never letting someone put out your fire and showing the world who you truly are.
Now, Kesha is headed out on her “Fuck the World Tour,” which is a big, blatant middle finger to not only Dr. Luke and his affiliates, but to a society that undermines the voices of women and brushes off accusations of abuse like dirt on its shoulder. She announced the tour on Instagram a little over a week ago, saying, “I thrive from making and performing music, and much like a flower with no sun, my soul slowly dies when I don’t get to create and perform… Until I can release my own music I will be reinventing some of my old songs and some of my favorite songs from my musical idols … that have helped shape who I am and the music I make today.”
Dr. Luke may have legal control over Kesha’s voice, but she has proven to us all that even a caged bird still sings. Kesha will be playing at Mr. Smalls Theater in Millvale, PA on August 10, and you can buy tickets to see her show here.
Rianna is a summer intern for the Thomas Merton Center and a senior at Duquesne University, studying international relations and sociology. She is interested in law and public policy surrounding gender and women’s rights.