Kesha and her fans were very much looking forward to her performance at the Billboard Music Awards. The singer had planned to cover Bob Dylan’s hit “It Ain’t Me.” Unfortunately, Dr. Luke and Kemosabe Records rescinded their permission for her to do so.
As reported by CNN, Kesha explained the change of plans in an Instagram post. “I’m very sad and sorry to say I won’t be allowed to do this. I just wanted to make very clear that this performance was about me honoring one of my favorite songwriters of all time and has never had anything at all to do with Dr. Luke.I was never going to use a picture of him, speak of him or allude to my legal situation in any way,” she wrote. “I simply wanted to sing a song I love to honor an artist I have always looked up to. thank u all for the continued support.”
Twitter was immediately flooded with messages of support, including a reprise of the #freekesha hashtag.
Kesha is just trying to move on herself and do things that have NOTHING to do with dr luke, yet he still prevents her from doing so....— Ricky Dillon (@RickyPDillon) May 18, 2016
And how can one person OWN another persons right to sing?— keshas mom (@grannywrapper) May 18, 2016
Song is prayer. So can Kesha pray without permission? Where's the line judge lady?
This is just the last sally in a years-long battle between the talented songstress and her producer. To fully understand the situation, it is important to start at the beginning. Recently, Forbes released an outline of the facts to date.
In 2005, at just 18 years of age, Kesha signed with Dr. Luke’s production company. Luke had convinced her to drop out of school and move to Los Angeles after being impressed by her demos. In 2006, Kesha, feeling “stifled” and ignored by Dr. Luke, signed a management deal with DAS Communications. In 2008, Kesha terminated her contract with DAS. Both she and the management company stated that Dr. Luke “intimidated and convinced” her into breaking the contract. Nevertheless, DAS later filed and won a suit against both Kesha and Luke for the early termination.
During a deposition given during the DAS case, Kesha claims that Luke never made advances at her. However, her lawyer later claimed that she was under threat from Luke at the time. In 2012, Kesha records her second album, amid reports that “relations became strained” between her and the producer, and in 2013 she would state that she did not have creative control over her music. Things reached a breaking point in 2014, when Kesha entered a rehab facility for an eating disorder. There she stated that Luke had drugged, physically abused, and sexually assaulted her. These claims would be repeated in a lawsuit filed later that same year, and joined by claims of sexual harassment, civil harassment, unfair business, and intentional and negligent inflection of emotional distress. Among the claims outlined in the lawsuit were several cases of coercion in order to control, bombardment of the songstress with insults about her talent and weight, and forcing her to listen to his sexual exploits with other women. Additionally, there were two accounts of Luke drugging and raping Kesha, one involving “sobriety pills” which were later found to instead be a date rape drug. He also threatened to bring about the end of her career if she told about the abuse.
Among the several signs of emotional abuse from a partner, HelpGuide lists, are humiliation or yelling, criticizing, treatment that causes embarrassment, ignoring accomplishments, viewing the victim as property, controlling the victim, blaming the victim for the abuser’s behavior, and limiting access to finances. Additionally, they add that a victim who feels afraid of his or her partner, avoids topics in fear of angering his or her partner, wonders if he or she is crazy, feels numb or helpless, or believes that he or she deserves mistreatment are all signs of emotional abuse.
When viewing these signs against the above outline, it seems obvious that Kesha is the victim of extreme and long-term emotional abuse at the hands of Dr. Luke. While the lines of controlling behavior become slightly blurred when working in a business relationship, unnecessarily controlling behavior such as forcing her to continue working in an environment wherein she is obviously frightened and denying her the right to perform in a venue that brings her joy is obviously crossing whatever lines there may be. Coercion and intimidation are classic tactics used by abusers. The suggestion of the rape that occurred after providing “sobriety pills” is nothing less than horrifying, and Sony’s refusal to promote non-Luke recordings is an obvious attempt to withhold finances.
Nor is this likely Dr. Luke’s first offense. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kelly Clarkson stated that she was “blackmailed” into working with him, and added that he was “not a good guy for [her].” Lady Gaga also admitted to having been sexually assaulted by someone with whom she was working. Whether or not this was Dr. Luke became a point of contention that was never settled. Additionally, as the Violence Research Foundation reports that individuals who abuse once have as high as a 60 percent chance of abusing again, this will most likely not be the last.
[Featured Image via Mary Altaffer/AP Images]