By Leslie Muir
From the cover of her albums it can be hard to tell that the messy looking party girl behind the boozy pop singles “Tik Tok” and “Your Love Is My Drug” is actually a real woman trying to maintain a career in a tooth-and-nail industry. That’s been extra hard for her this past year while her producer, Dr. Luke, has been effectively stopping any recording, touring, or self-promoting that she could be doing.
The reason? In 2014, Kesha Rose Sebert, or Kesha, brought a lawsuit against her producer, Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, alleging that he had sexually, physically and emotionally abused her. The lawsuit claims that he has been controlling her artistic persona and stifling her creativity for years. It also accuses him of constant emotional and verbal abuse, as well as sexual abuse that included, at one point, drugging her with Flunitrazepam, also known as roofies. According to the lawsuit, the popstar wishes to sever all ties to her producer, breaking a detailed contract between them, as well as from the record label, Kemosabe, which he runs.
Dr. Luke has done everything in his power to prevent this from happening. He has openly denied that any of her allegations are true and going as far as to countersue in 2014 for defamation, for what he believed was “tantamount to extortion.” He has since denied her the right to record new music, tour, or promote her albums, which, according to Kesha, has “effectively ended” her music career—especially in such a fast-paced internet age where new artists appear constantly. On Feb. 19, a New York judge denied a court injunction that would have allowed Kesha to begin recording new music.
Online petitions began appearing as early as 2013 for Dr. Luke to allow Kesha to begin making music independently from him. The “Free Kesha” movement gained traction on social media, culminating with protests outside of the courthouse during the February trial. Many musicians have come out in support of Kesha, most notably Lady Gaga dedicating her performance at this year’s Oscars to the pop singer and Taylor Swift’s donation of $250,000 to help with Kesha’s “financial needs during this trying time.”
It has been a tough year for the feather-clad pop icon. Kesha recently reported entering rehab for an eating disorder that allegedly formed due to Dr. Luke’s emotional abuse. The parent company, Sony, who owns the record label has refused to terminate the binding contract themselves, saying that they do not have the authority to do so. The lawsuit itself could be dismissed by an unmoved judge within the next month or it could drag on while evidence is collected by both sides and the case dwindles out of the spotlight and is lost in judicial procedures. Supporters of artistic freedom and women’s rights have continued to sign the online petition imploring the powers that be to free Kesha from the contract that has kept her locked out of her own career for over a year now.
Kesha has taken to social media to voice her anguish over the issue, one of the only platforms not controlled in her life by Dr. Luke. On Feb. 24, she posted on Facebook about the ordeal.
“All I ever wanted was to make music without being afraid, scared or abused. This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract. This is about being free from my abuser,” the singer wrote.