Kesha Rose Sebert is back in our lives and on our radios, and she wants you to know in her own words exactly what that really means to her.
The singer, who has been engulfed in a highly public legal battle with producer Dr. Luke (ne Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald) for the better part of three years, is speaking up loudly for folks everywhere with her latest single, “Woman”but Kesha isn’t just owning her own voice on the mic. She has also been able to slowly foster an environment where she can express herself in an authentic voice, and that has made all the difference leading up to the release of her third studio album, Rainbow.
Similar to what the singer did for Rainbow‘s first single “Praying,” Kesha has detailed the making of her second single, “Woman” with an essay for Rolling Stone to accompany its releasea completely different marketing strategy than we’ve seen from the “Tik Tok” singer in the past.
In a stirring essay, Kesha discusses at length how she was able to be completely herself in the company of her co-writers Drew Pearson and Stephen Wrabel, describing the day they recorded “Woman” as one she’ll, “remember forever.”
“That day in particular I felt like I had earned the right call myself a motherfucking woman,” she explained. “I have always been a feminist, but for much of my life I felt like a little girl trying to figure things out. In the past few years, I have felt like a woman more than ever. I just feel the strength and awesomeness and power of being female.”
It’s a statement that’s powerful to read alone, but even more powerful to hear her sing, considering where she’s coming from.
“I do what I want/ Say what you say/ I work real hard every day/ I’m a motherfuckining woman, baby, all right/ I don’t need a man to be holding me too tight,” she croons buoyantly on the anthem, featuring The Dap-Kings Horns.
These lyrics epitomize this Kesha 2.0 we’re witnessing, and cast the album cycle for Rainbow as far away as possible from her first two studio albums spearheaded by Dr. Luke, 2010’s Animal and 2012’s Warrior.
Under her contract with Luke, Kesha was required to produce eight albumsbut around 2013, fans began a petition calling for the termination of her relationship with the executive due to rumors of Dr. Luke’s controlling behavior. Later, Kesha would describe to New York Times Magazinehow Dr. Luke forced her to dumb down lyrics and her image. All that piled on in the news, in addition to Kesha’s mother who also spoke out against the pressures he put on Kesha to lose weight, according to RS.
More information about Dr. Luke’s controlling and abusive tendencies was released when Kesha filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Dr. Luke, claiming the producer had “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused Ms. Sebert to the point where Ms. Sebert nearly lost her life,” in an effort to, “maintain complete control over her life and career.”
She dropped the dollar sign in her name that launched her career, and in turn, took the first steps to reclaiming her voice.
On social media, she also became vocal, using platforms like Instagram to make her message even clearer.
“It’s the most vulnerable and honest I have ever been to myself and it’s literally documenting me growing up,” she said on Instagram after a recording session in December 2016.
“I cannot wait and will forever fight for you to hear it…I just want to make art… and my New Years resolution is to finish my record and give it to you,” she wrote.
In other Instagram posts, Kesha continues to be extremely open about her experiences throughout her careerwhether she’s explaining that she was allegedly asked to lie about her accusations (“I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again,” she wrote on Instagram) or calling out body-shamers ( “My career is in a strange place and it feels like I’m fighting an uphill fight some days. But I have decided to take my life back. My freedom. My happiness. My voice. My worth. I will not just fucking be quiet and hide,” she wrote on another post).
“All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused,” Kesha wrote on Facebook in February 2016. “This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract it was never about getting a bigger, or a better deal. This is about being free from my abuser,” she said, encouraging fans who have experienced abuse to find places of solace and the courage to speak out.
Since 2014, multiple suits have been filed and all have been rejected, and while the legal situation with the producer has not been settledshe’s still obligated to make six more albums under her contract with Sonyit’s clear that she’s not letting that stop her from sharing her music with fans on her own terms, regardless of the possible consequences.
Kesha described the single “Woman” as “an anthem for anyone else who wants to yell about being self-sufficient and strong,” a message she’s been beautifully howling for all to hear.
It’s up to us now to really step up and listen.