Why everyone is talking about Kesha’s defiant Grammys performance

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Kayleigh Dray
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Kesha has been praised for her brave and emotional performance of Praying at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.

Janelle Monae introduced Kesha’s #MeToo performance with a call-to-action for female equality in the music industry.

“We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up,” she said, citing the popular movement.

“We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind, time’s up for abuse of power. We also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. It’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s going on in our industry.”

Kesha then stepped on to the stage to perform Praying, the lead single off the triumphant 2017 record Rainbow – which allowed her the chance to publicly reflect on her emotional, years-long legal battle against her former producer, Dr. Luke.

“I’m proud of who I am,” she sang tearfully. “No more monsters, I can breathe again.

“And you said that I was done. Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come.”

Joined on stage by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, Julia Michaels and Bebe Rexha and the Resistance Revival Chorus, Kesha – dressed all in white, the colour of the suffragette movement – belted her way through the song.

And her performance has been widely praised on Twitter, with the likes of La Toya Jackson tweeting that Kesha’s “statement” had left them feeling overwhelmed with emotion.

“That performance was everything,” tweeted one. “We are so proud of you.”

Another wrote: “I cried the whole time – that was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen or heard.

“Everyone saw you tonight, and you are not alone.”

“We stand with you forever,” added another.

“Kesha had me crying,” wrote La Toya Jackson. 

Kesha, encouraged by the reactions online, later took to Twitter herself, quoting lyrics from her song in a message of gratitude.

“After everything you’ve done I can thank you for how strong I have become,” she tweeted.

“Thank you to the @RecordingAcad, the women on stage with me tonight, and everyone who has supported me through this whole journey.”

For background, Kesha filed a lawsuit again Dr Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald) in 2014, alleging (among other things) sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and emotional distress over a 10-year period.

Dr Luke denied the claims and countersued, and a judge turned down Kesha’s request to be released from her contract with Sony’s Kemosabe Records.

Kesha later posted a message on Instagram saying she had been asked by an unnamed party to publicly backtrack, and implied she’d be released from her contract in return.

“I got offered my freedom IF I were to lie,” she wrote. “I would have to APOLOGISE publicly and say that I never got raped. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS behind closed doors.

“I will not take back the TRUTH. I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again.”

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.