Janel Dyan

Women Crushing It Wednesday

#WCIW: Kesha

Anthem Author for #metoo. Determined Truth-Teller. Inspirational Evolution.

Most people recognize Kesha as the hard-partying pop singer who brushes her teeth with “a bottle of Jack” and who, for a time, seemed to have fallen off the face of the Earth. Kesha, however, is so much more than that.

From her personal struggles with an eating disorder to her very public sexual assault case against producer Dr. Luke, to her astonishingly powerful new album, Kesha has evolved immensely over the years to come back better than ever.

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Kesha Rose Sebert was born in Los Angeles on March 1st, 1987. Her mother was a songwriter, so she was exposed to music from the very beginning. As a single parent, her mother struggled to make ends meet during Kesha’s childhood. "We were on welfare and food stamps," the artist tells us. "One of my first memories is my mom telling me, 'If you want something, just take it.'"

At four, Kesha’s mother landed a songwriting contract and the two moved to Nashville. Most of Kesha’s time there was spent watching her mother at work in music studios. Her interest was piqued and she displayed not only a passion for music, but also real talent. Her mother nurtured what she saw in her daughter, helping her gain some experience by singing on demo tapes. At 17, Kesha dropped out of high school to pursue a music career in Los Angeles. There she quickly caught the attention of Dr. Luke, an established producer who had launched the careers of Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson.

 

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Early on, Dr. Luke spoke highly of his new discovery, telling Entertainment Weekly, "I thought her voice was distinctive, and I fell in love with her personality. She had the same sass and irreverence she has now."

But Kesha has since alleged that their actual relationship was much darker. While her career skyrocketed and she became an international star, she related frequently inappropriate and even violent actions by Dr. Luke. In a 2014 lawsuit she claims that he drugged and raped her on two occasions. She took Dr. Luke to court in an attempt to free herself from his grasp both personally and professionally. While the lawsuits were unsuccessful, Kesha garnered support from many high-profile women in the music industry and around the world. Singers Adele and Lady Gaga voiced their support for her and Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to her cause.

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Despite setbacks, Kesha persevered. Thus far, her career had been overshadowed by a party girl image that led many to wrongly assume a struggle with addiction, amid a backdrop of ongoing abuse. 

Reaching the point where something had to give, Kesha stepped back from the industry to work on her physical, mental, and emotional health, and has since became a sort of phoenix rising from the ashes. She has overcome an eating disorder and emotional issues, and emerged from a two months stay in rehab with a new lease on life and a better understanding of her self-worth.

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Returning to her art with the album Rainbow released earlier this year, Kesha pours her heart out musically to the world. With power ballads like Praying and Learn to Let Go, she not only created an outlet for her own experiences but created an anthem for the #metoo and #timesup era.

For her hauntingly emotional album, her determination to tell her truth, and her inspirational evolution, Kesha is this week’s #WCIW.

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