Written by Tristin Campbell. Media by Courtney Murphy.
If you’re up to date on current events (or even if you’re not), odds are you’ve heard about Kesha’s court battle recently. She stirred up quite the controversy by accusing her producer, Dr. Luke, of sexual assault. Kesha has not been able to release any officially produced songs since the court case started.
The 28-year-old singer, songwriter and rapper, Kesha Rose Sebert, has sold over 60 million records worldwide. Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert, was also a singer and encouraged her daughter to sing and record with her from a young age. Their dreams were made a reality when Lukasz Gottwald, better known as Dr. Luke, started working with Kesha ten years ago.
Kesha says that when she was just 18, Dr. Luke convinced her to move away from her family in Nashville to pursue a career in the music industry. She signed on with his label, Kemosabe Records, and her contract stated that she would record at least six albums exclusively under Dr. Luke. Over time, he poured more than 60 million dollars into her music career.
Kesha’s success is inarguable. For example, 11 of her songs made it to the top 10 singles on the Hot 100 chart. Even with all this success, Kesha made it clear over the years that she has never cared about the money she receives or promoting herself. She makes music because it is her passion and she has a message to share. But that passion has been smothered in the debate and controversy which has recently been brought to the public’s eye.
followed by her Warrior Tour. The time afterward was filled with turmoil for her. In 2014, Kesha checked into rehab to receive treatment for an eating disorder she struggled with since she signed on with Dr. Luke. Her mother confirmed that Kesha was struggling with bulimia nervosa and stated that Dr. Luke was partly the cause of her eating disorder. The Seberts claimed that upon signing, Dr. Luke told her to lose weight. Kesha says in the suit that she “developed bulimia after Dr. Luke regularly disparaged her weight.” Kesha’s mother also claims that this verbal abuse caused her daughter’s condition to worsen. But after her time in rehab, tired of hiding these secrets, Kesha came out swinging.
During October 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices from their 10 years working together. The suit claimed that “Dr. Luke abused Ms. Sebert in order to destroy her self-confidence, self-image, and self-worth so that he could maintain complete control over her life and career.” Kesha also recalled that Dr. Luke raped her early in her career while she was under the influence of date rape drugs. She said she “woke up nude in the producer’s hotel room, and phoned her mother to tell her she’d been raped and needed to go to the emergency room.”
This initial lawsuit lasted for about a year before Kesha sought a preliminary injunction to release her from Kemosabe Records. But last month, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha’s request, stating that there was insufficient evidence against Dr. Luke. The judge argued, “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry.” The ruling was influenced by the fact that Dr. Luke invested so much money into Kesha’s career. “My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing,” the judge added.
Now, after the latest court date, rumors of Sony dropping Dr. Luke as a producer have surfaced. Sony refused to comment on the situation. Dr. Luke’s attorney, however, claimed that the rumors are false and that Dr. Luke and Sony have a great relationship.
Although Kesha was clearly devastated by the case’s outcome, she continues to fight, insisting that “the truth will set you free.” But for now, her singing career remains at a standstill. The ruling leaves us with many questions about the protection of sexual abuse victims, the fairness (or lack thereof) in entertainment contracts, and the legitimacy of the justice system’s decisions in similar situations.
What do you think about Kesha’s struggle? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #FreeKesha.