It’s been about four years since Kesha had the world in tears when she released, “Praying,” the lead single off her 2017 album Rainbow. A heartbreaking manifestation of her years long struggle with infamous producer Lukasz Gottwald, best known as Dr. Luke, in a battle that continues today. With hope just on the horizon, we’ll certainly keep “praying” for her long overdue freedom.
Lukasz Gottwald has produced some of the biggest pop hits that many of us grew up listening to. From songs on Katy Perry’s One Of The Boys & Teenage Dream albums, to “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, to “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson, and of course the majority of Kesha’s early hits. The majority of 2010s nostalgic pop classics were the work of Gottwald.
In 2014 Pebe Sebert, the mother of Kesha, alleged that Gottwald had pushed her daughter towards an eating disorder through constant verbal and physical abuse. He reportedly went to the extent of personally restricting her diet, punishing her for drinking a Diet Coke, and leaving doctors surprised she was alive at the peak of her eating disorder.
Following her mothers accusations Kesha filed a sexual abuse and battery lawsuit against Gottwald the same year and the battle between the two has been ongoing within the courtroom ever since.
Kesha pictured in 2005, when Gottwald’s alleged abuse began
However, in a recent legal victory for Kesha, documents were released that show she reported being sexually assaulted and drugged by Gottwald in 2005 and that she did not feel comfortable working with him, years before she had achieved any personal success. This specifically goes against Gottwald’s claims that Kesha lied about the rape in 2014 simply to get out of her contract and monetary gain.
Nonetheless in 2022, Gottwald, accused sexual abuser, is riding a wave of success with producing Doja Cat’s Planet Her (that’s a whole other story) and once again remerging as a powerful producer within pop music whilst Kesha continues to be trapped within her contract with him. Her rapist continues to control her music releases, her career, and she’s left at a stagnate point until she’s freed from her contract. It’s a harrowing tale on why women’s voices matter.
The #FreeKesha movement was reignited on social media this past week with the release of trans-popstar Kim Petras newest EP entitled, Slut Pop, executively produced and written by her frequent collaborator Gottwald. It left a terrible taste in peoples mouths when a man with multiple rape and sexual abuse allegations was credited with writing and producing every track on a project called Slut Pop. Not only that, but the project reached number 1 on the iTunes charts, which only added fuel to the outrage.
As a result, #FreeKesha banners have once again been hung outside Sony Music’s headquarters. The hashtag has trended worldwide on Twitter, and Kesha has taken to social media to indirectly thank fans for the support as she continues her legal battle.
In the past, Petras has also denounced Kesha’s accusations as false. She stated in an interview, “I would like my fans to know that I wouldn’t work with somebody I believe to be an abuser of women, definitely not,” indirectly standing in support of Gottwald.
Individuals on Twitter also pointed out how Petras mentions Lady Gaga, a survivor who has been incredibly open about her sexual abuse experience and defended Kesha in a court appearance during Gottwald’s lawsuit of her, in a song on the EP.
“Why on earth would this girl tell the entire world this happened? Why on earth? Do you know what it’s like for survivors? Do you know what it’s like to tell people? Don’t you roll your eyes at me. You should be ashamed of yourself.” — Lady Gaga testified in court in response to Gottwald’s lawyers accusing Kesha of lying.
Kesha & Lady Gaga
Petras sings, “These lips go ‘la-la-la,’ This throat, Lady Gaga,” once again on a song co-written by Gottwald. Fans were left outraged because Lady Gaga stated previously that testifying in support of Kesha against Gottwald in court caused her to have a psychotic breakdown linked to PTSD from her rape, also by a record producer at nineteen years old. It’s simply sick.
As of now Kesha’s story showcases the worst of the music industry and cements that even in 2022 it very much remains a male dominated boys club. Whilst Kesha has lost millions of dollars through her legal battles and has had her career continue to be controlled by her abuser, Gottwald is enjoying immense success with Doja Cat, Saweetie, Kim Petras, and numerous other artists seemingly with little to no repercussions.
Without Gottwald’s consent, Kesha is unable to appear on other artists’ songs, sing the national anthem at an event, produce any live recordings, or even upload a cover to her official YouTube channel. She can’t make a living writing songs for other singers since she’s contracted to his publishing firm. Gottwald even profited off her album, Rainbow, an album which highlighted the trauma and pain caused by his abuse — he profited from her pain. Currently, almost everything Kesha does in her career benefits her rapist.
With the thirteen year long battle that was endured by the #FreeBritney movement until a momentous victory, fans and activists remain hopeful that the same outcome can happen for Kesha. The music business has a long history of sexual harassment and abuse towards women, but Kesha’s circumstances are a unique nightmare that desperately need a happy ending.