Music

Kesha super fans share meaningful ways she changed their lives as they fight for her freedom

Patrick Kelleher February 18, 2022
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Kesha attends Apple's "Ted Lasso" Season 2 Premiere at Pacific Design Center on July 15, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.

Kesha attends Apple's "Ted Lasso" Season 2 Premiere at Pacific Design Center on July 15, 2021 in West Hollywood, California. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

On two separate nights over the last week, activists erected “Free Kesha” banners outside the Los Angeles offices of Sony Music.

It might seem like a small gesture, but it’s a significant one nonetheless. Longtime fans will know that, to this day, Kesha is signed to Kemosabe Records, a Sony Music subsidiary that was set up by Dr Luke.

In 2014, Kesha accused Dr Luke of drugging her and raping her in a civil lawsuit (Dr Luke has denied all allegations). The case was tossed out two years later, and her pleas that she be freed from her record label were rejected by the courts. A judge later ruled that Kesha had defamed Dr Luke in a text exchange with Lady Gaga – a trial is yet to take place.

Just like that, the Free Kesha movement, a fan-led initiative that had thrived for years, faded into the background. People moved on, and Kesha’s freedom – or lack thereof – slowly slipped off the agenda. Hardcore fans kept fighting, but the world was no longer listening.

Fans have known all along that Kesha’s moment was yet to come. They watched and offered their support as the world rowed in behind Britney Spears. The Free Britney movement ultimately resulted in the singer being freed from her controversial conservatorship last year.

Nobody could have known that Kesha’s legal situation would be thrust back into the spotlight with the release of an EP from an entirely unrelated artist.

The Free Kesha movement came back into focus as Kim Petras released her latest EP

On 11 February, Kim Petras released her latest EP, titled Slut Pop. In another artist’s hands, it would have been relatively innocuous, but social media quickly recoiled from the project when they discovered that the entire thing was produced and co-written by Dr Luke. Fans were uneasy at the idea of him writing and producing songs like “Treat Me Like a Slut” and “Your Wish Is My Command”.

Within hours, the hashtag “Free Kesha” started trending on social media. Ben Abraham, a co-writer on Kesha’s song “Praying”, tweeted: “Kesha’s still signed to Dr Luke. Just in case anyone forgot. It’s still in litigation. He still controls her releases. It’s been eight years. Women’s voices matter.”

She actually gave me the courage to come out and be unapologetically myself.

Fans went into overdrive. They’re now imploring the world to support Kesha in the way they did Britney Spears over the last couple of years.

Their argument is as follows: Kesha should be freed from her deal with Kemosabe Records/Sony Music, and Dr Luke should end any and all remaining contractual ties they still have to each other. She should be free to pursue a music career in whatever way she sees fit.

LGBT+ fans are fighting for Kesha because she’s fought for them

Austin is one of the fans who’s been fighting for Kesha’s freedom since the early days. He’s been an “animal” – the fan name for Kesha’s following – ever since she released her debut album of the same name in 2010.

“I first heard about the case in 2014 and I really started looking into the details in late 2016, early 2017. I’ve been researching it ever since,” he tells PinkNews.

“I have been listening to Kesha for years and she’s always been an avid supporter of the LGBT+ community. She actually gave me the courage to come out and be unapologetically myself,” he says. “So for me, she’s given me the courage to be myself and I think her story needs to be heard.”

Austin is hopeful that now is the moment for the Free Kesha movement to gain traction once more. 

“Recently Kesha’s been getting more popular on TikTok, her songs are starting to resurface and people are finally starting to see the deep cuts from the album that they may not have heard before. With that happening, she needs support from everybody. With the support of everybody, and with getting all the details out there, I think Kesha could finally get justice.” 

He wants Kesha to know that her animals have her back. “We will continue to fight until she gets the justice that she deserves,” he says. 

Fans hope their movement will build the same momentum Free Britney did

Like Austin, Tyler has been part of the Free Kesha movement for almost a decade. He first got involved when he learned that Kesha had been recording music with The Flaming Lips, but a planned collaborative album was scrapped. Fans alleged Kesha’s conflict with Dr Luke was behind the decision.

He’s been part of the Free Kesha movement ever since. Now, Tyler is hopeful the Free Kesha movement can build the same kind of support the Free Britney movement did.

“It would mean the world to me if the Free Kesha movement built a similar support base as the Free Britney movement,” he tells PinkNews.

Kesha speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women In Entertainment at Milk Studios on December 5, 2018.
Kesha speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter’s Power 100 Women In Entertainment at Milk Studios on December 5, 2018. (Jesse Grant/Getty)

Tyler is of the opinion that Kesha has “earned” her freedom – he wants to see her given the chance to release music on her own terms.

“Kesha, you really are an inspiration to the LGBTQI+ community as well as a stellar example of what an LGBTQI+ advocate looks like, someone who takes social risks for the betterment of the community.”

He says they will “continue the Free Kesha movement for as long as it takes”.

The movement fell off the agenda after the release of ‘Praying’

Brady is another longtime fan who’s been heavily involved with the Free Kesha movement. He’s been frustrated over the last couple of years by the lack of interest from the general public in the singer’s legal situation.

“I think people stopped talking about it because they saw her release ‘Praying’ and they immediately thought that meant she was free, and it’s up to us to keep pushing that narrative that she is still trapped so she can finally have control over her career,” Brady says. 

Brady, like other fans, is of the opinion that the release of “Praying” – which was widely thought to be about Kesha’s relationship with Dr Luke – and the subsequent album Rainbow made people think that Kesha had been freed from all contractual obligations to Dr Luke and Kemosabe Records. He points out that that album, and its follow up High Road, were both released on Kemosabe Records.

He hopes Kesha knows that her animals are still fighting for her – and they’re not going to stop anytime soon.

“If I could send a message to Kesha, I’d tell her to always remember that there are more people rallying for her than against her and more people rooting for her success than her downfall.

“I would tell her to never stop fighting because it’s only a matter of time before she gets her life and career back – whether that be in court or by the completion of her contract after her next album.” 

Kesha performs Praying at the Grammys in 2018.
Kesha performs Praying at the Grammys in 2018. (Kevin Winter/Getty)

Jack, another fan, is hopeful other artists will stop working with Dr Luke. He’s been frustrated to see the likes of Kim Petras writing and producing songs with him.

“Don’t give him a fanbase. He doesn’t deserve one,” Jack says.

He wants Kesha to know that her fans are on her side – they always have been and they always will be.

“I will forever be an Animal… I’m proud of you, and I love you. Stay strong, we’re here for you.”

Kesha has kept quiet – but she broke her silence to hit out at the patriarchy

Fans believe passionately that, if they fight hard enough, Kesha will one day be freed from her record deal and contractual obligations, allowing her to pursue her music career in exactly the way she chooses. The problem, of course, is that the path to freedom is long, complicated and unclear.

PinkNews has contacted  representatives for Kesha to ask how many more albums she’s contractually obliged to release on Kemosabe Records before her deal comes to an end. We also asked for clarification on the level of involvement Dr Luke currently has in Kesha’s career. No response had been received at the time of publishing.

You show me everyday yet another way this society and the patriarchy tries to keep us lonely and small.

Still, fans believe Kesha wants them to keep fighting. As #FreeKesha started trending on Twitter, the singer turned up to the premiere of the new supernatural horror comedy film Studio 666 with the comedian Whitney Cummings. She shared a picture of them together on the red carpet on Instagram afterwards.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kesha (@iiswhoiis)

“I have learned so much from you Whitney Cummings,” she wrote. “You show me everyday yet another way this society and the patriarchy tries to keep us lonely and small. F**k that. Let’s take em. Who’s with us?”

Unsurprisingly, the comments were flooded with the same message – “Free Kesha”.

PinkNews has contacted Dr Luke and Sony Music for a response to the Free Kesha movement.

More: Britney Spears, dr luke, free britney, Kesha, Kim Petras

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