“All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared or abused,” Singer Kesha Rose Sebert said. This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract…This is about being free from my abuser.
A 2014 lawsuit accused Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald of insulting Kesha’s talent and appearance, driving her to bulimia, depression, post-traumatic stress and panic attacks. Other allegations included drugging and raping Kesha, and then threatening to demolish her family’s safety and career if Kesha reported the abuse. Dr. Luke filed a defamation lawsuit in response—accusing Kesha, her mother Pebe Sebert and manager Jack Rovner of orchestrating false accusations to coerce the court into freeing Kesha from the record deal. In 2015, Kesha requested a termination of her six-album contract with Sony Music Entertainment and Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald—claiming that Dr. Luke was responsible for years of emotional trauma. “It’s a shame that there’s so much speculation out there basing itself on so little information,” Dr. Luke said. “I understand why people without all the information are speaking out. But lives can get ruined when there’s a rush to judgment before all the facts come out.”
In Feb., N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich refused to liberate Kesha from her contract. The contract did allow Kesha to collaborate with producers other than Dr. Luke, but lawyer Mark Geragos claimed that the offer was “illusory,” as Sony would be unlikely to publicize any recorded material.
“Many people, especially women, are supporting Kesha because we get it. We understand sexism and experience it on a day to day basis. However, we have so much emotional experience with this topic, we start judging without understanding. I don’t know if Kesha’s claims are true—but as women, many of us can sympathize with her situation,” Sophomore Ujjaini Mukhopadhyay said.
The court’s refusal sparked waves of support for Kesha from fans, celebrities and sexual assault survivors. Fans clustered near Sony’s headquarters with petitions that had garnered over 411,000 signatures, demanding Kesha’s release from Sony. Singer Taylor Swift provided $250,000 to aid in Kesha’s legal expenses. Other female artists like Adele, Lena Dunham, Kelly Clarkson and Anne Hathaway voiced their support for Kesha—igniting a #FreeKesha trend on social media.
“Kesha’s decision to speak up about her situation with Dr. Luke is a huge turning point in the music industry. It represents the injustices artists face when they’re restricted to work with alleged abusers. It’s truly inspiring that fans have created Go Fund Me accounts to help Kesha escape her legal expenses,” Sophomore Connie Beck said.
“We are not scared anymore of losing what we worked for, of being branded hysterical or difficult, of being targeted and silenced by men in power,” Dunham said. “The women in the music industry speaking out for Kesha are proof. And their words will reverberate, inspiring the young women watching them for clues about the good life to speak up too. While Kesha is indefinitely silenced, her voice has never been louder.”