Celebrities Respond to Ke$ha and Dr. Luke Sexual Assault Case
by Emma James on Thursday, March 10th, 2016
Kesha Rose Sebert, better known by her first name alone or “Ke$ha,” is famous for her hit songs “Tik Tok,” “We R Who We R,” and “Die Young.” The singer claims she has been emotionally and physically harmed by her eminent producer, Lukasz Gottald, better known as Dr. Luke of Kemosabe Records, a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment.
In 2005, Kesha met Dr. Luke when she was a senior in a Nashville high school, and he convinced her to drop out to sign with his renowned record label. Kesha reports that soon after her 18th birthday, Dr. Luke drugged her with a date rape pill and raped her. She reports that she woke up naked and called her mother, asking to be taken to the emergency room. Dr. Luke was never criminally charged. Kesha seemed to disappear from the public eye after her hit song “Timber” with rapper Pitbull was released in late 2013. She had checked into rehab in January 2014 for an eating disorder that she has since claimed was the result of Dr. Luke’s constant stream of criticisms, including calling her a “fat f****** refrigerator,” according to a People magazine article.
In October 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke for alleged sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and emotional abuse. A year after the lawsuit was filed, Kesha sought a preliminary injunction to release her from her contract with Dr. Luke. The terms of the contract she signed in 2005 bound her exclusive recording services to Kemosabe Records until the release of her sixth album. Dr. Luke would provide his personal production services for at least six songs on each album. Up to this point, the singer has released two full studio albums and an EP, most recently in 2013.
Regarding the long period between the initial rape and the filing, Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, stated in the courtroom that Dr. Luke “threatened that if she ever mentioned the rape to anyone, he would shut her career down, take away all her publishing and recording rights, and otherwise destroy not only her life but her entire family’s lives as well.” Therefore, Kesha had “never dared to talk about, let alone report, what Dr. Luke had done to her.”
However, in a 2011 deposition in a different court case, Kesha asserted that Dr. Luke had never abused her, sexually or otherwise, according to the LA Times. Her lawyer stated that she only said so in the deposition because Dr. Luke had physically threatened her beforehand.
On February 19, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha the request to be released from her contract with Dr. Luke, saying that “[the justice’s] instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing,” despite the emotional account of many episodes of assault.
Many female voices in the industry voiced their support for Kesha over Twitter using #FreeKesha, including Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Lorde, and Sara Bareilles. Kelly Clarkson, who had worked with Dr. Luke on her hits “Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” tweeted, “[t]rying 2 not say anything since I can’t say anything nice….so this is me not talking about Dr. Luke.” Taylor Swift donated $250K to Kesha, her spokesperson speaking on her behalf, “to help with any of [Kesha’s] financial needs during this trying time.”
In response to the backlash of the decision, Sony offered to have Kesha work with another producer. While that might be the only solution left, the artist fears that “Sony won’t promote her music as heavily if she’s not working with Gottwald, their biggest hitmaker.” Her lawyer also described the offer as “illusory” because even if Kesha’s records were produced, the company would not promote them.
Kesha’s situation is not a unique problem and others are beginning to express their discontentment with the industry. Eight-time Grammy award winning female singer, Tori Amos says, “The music industry is a vicious business. It chews women up and spits them out.” Jessica Hopper asks her 33K Twitter followers, specifically women, “what was your 1st brush (in music industry) w/ the idea that you didn’t ‘count’?” There are so many female artists who aspire to be discovered and are talented enough to do so, and yet there are many more hurdles, beside just sheer competition, that lie in their paths to greatness.
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