If you’re no stranger to modern pop culture, you’ve likely heard of the popular singer Kesha. Formerly known as “Ke$ha“, she burst onto the pop music scene back in 2008, with the release of a track with Flo Rida, “Right Round“. Later, in 2009, she released her debut single, “Tik Tok“, to worldwide acclaim and success. Her debut album “Animal” garnered a handful of hits, as did her follow up EP, “Cannibal“. After a slight under-performance with her sophomore record, “Warrior‘, Kesha teamed up with popular rap artist Pitbull, to release the #1 worldwide smash hit “Timber” in 2012.
But success doesn’t come without its drawbacks.
Lukasz Gottwald, otherwise known as Doctor Luke, appears to be one of them.
Gottwald is a popular producer in the music industry: he’s worked with artists like Katy Perry, Marina Diamandis, P!nk and Britney Spears. He’s partially responsible for hits such as Kesha’s “Tik Tok“, P!nk’s “Who Knew” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl“.
He is the founder of Kemosabe Records, the same label that Kesha is signed to.
In October of 2014, Kesha sued him for sexual assault and battery, among many other claims.
Why? Here’s the scoop:
In September 2013, Rebecca Pimmel, a fan of Kesha, set up a petition to “free” Kesha from Dr. Luke’s management and accused Luke of “stunting” Kesha’s creative growth as an artist. The petitioners concur with the position stated in Kesha’s TV series documentary, My Crazy Beautiful Life, in which Luke serves as an executive producer, that she had little creative control of her second album, Warrior.
In January 2014, shortly after Kesha was admitted to a rehab center for bulimia nervosa, Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert, made allegations that pressure for Kesha to lose weight came from Dr. Luke. Sebert claimed that Dr. Luke said that Kesha looked “like a refrigerator” which instigated her eating disorder. Dr. Luke denies these claims.
In October 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke, claiming sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, violation of California’s unfair business laws, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent retention and supervision. Gottwald responded by filing a countersuit alleging that Kesha’s lawsuit was an attempt by Kesha, her mother, and her new management firm to extort him into releasing her from her contract. Defamation was also cited as alleged basis for Gottwald’s countersuit.
Now, one would ask, if Doctor Luke were as innocent as he claims, and if Kesha’s claims are so truly damaging to his name, why won’t he just let Kesha go?
The answer is: money.
Five years ago, Dr. Luke signed a five-year contract with Sony, launching his imprint Kemosabe Records and mandating that Luke produce exclusively for Sony artists (although loopholes have allowed him to produce for others, such as Katy Perry). At the time, Sony Music CEO Doug Morris praised Gottwald as his “new Jimmy [Iovine],” a comparison he repeated for John Seabrook’s 2013 profile of the producer.
Obviously, the state of this union looks a lot different in 2016 than it did in 2011, and not just because of the lawsuit. Kemosabe, despite Luke’s efforts, has failed to be an Iovine-esque success. Billboard sources claim it’s burned through about $20 million and “has [Miley] Cyrus [via “Wrecking Ball,” etc.] to thank for being in the black.” Cyrus has not worked with Dr. Luke in some time (but she did express support for Kesha via Instagram by sharing a photo of Fiona Apple with a pro-Kesha sign). Otherwise, Kemosabe’s biggest artist by far is Kesha. Given the financial context, doubling down on Luke’s career would not only affect the singer’ s future but would make a definite statement.
- Rolling Stone
Simply put, Gottwald refuses to drop Kesha because she remains his labels second biggest source of income.
Celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Ryn Weaver and Demi Lovato have all tweeted or voiced their support for Kesha. Taylor Swift made headlines last weekend by donating a jaw-dropping $250,000 USD to Kesha and her family to provide financial assistance during this trying time. Adele recently dedicated her 2016 Brit Awards win to Kesha.
These celebrities realize that this is more than just a case of emotional abuse, neglect and sexual assault for more than a decade. This is more than just a case of Kesha not receiving creative freedom in her own line of work. This is about the fact that no man or woman should have monetary interests put ahead of their own personal well being.
No artist should ever be the victim of sexual assault for ANY period of time by ANY of their colleagues, nevermind anyone at all. No artist should feel afraid to speak up about their abuse because their claims are damaging to a label’s reputation. No artist should be legally tied to their abuser in contract form. And no artists’ well being should ever be cast aside in favor of monetary income.
I stand with Kesha because not only is her dire situation a violation of women’s rights; but it’s also a violation of human rights.
Yes, it is time to #FreeKesha, and it is also time to #FreeWomen in the music industry as well.
Information in this article was previously reported by Rolling Stone.
Do you stand with Kesha? Tweet us @CelebMix using the hashtag #FreeKesha or leave a comment below!