How Kesha Got in Warrior Shape

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Kesha may be known for her eccentric outfits and outrageous makeup, but underneath all that glitter and glam, there’s a real girl. A real gorgeous girl, at that. The sassy singer has been looking better than ever lately, with a natural new look, a hot new boyfriend, and a much talked about new show, to boot (Rising Star premieres June 22 at 9/8c on ABC).

If you happen to follow the buxom blonde on Instagram, you’ll notice she loves to show off her pretty perfect posterior (and who wouldn’t!)-but according to her trainer Kit Rich, the pop star puts in a lot of hard work to achieve it. That’s why we were thrilled to sit down with the celeb fitness guru to steal some of Kesha’s “Warrior” booty workout secrets and more.

Shape: How long have you been working with Kesha?

Kit Rich (KR): Since her song “TikToK” came out. Our first session was on the beach. After our workout, she went and jumped in the ocean! It was freezing but she didn’t care. She became one of my absolute favorite people after that.

Shape: How many days a week do you usually work out and how long are the sessions?

KR: It depends. She travels a lot for work. When I was on tour with her, we trained almost everyday. When she is in town, she stays consistent-mainly three times a week, sometimes four. Sessions are one hour long, but she is also great about working out on her own.

Shape: What does a typical workout with Kesha specifically entail?

KR: Kesha loves a challenge! I switch it up all the time. Today, we did a 24-minute Tabata-inspired routine that only focused on arms using 10-pound weights, an eight-pound ball and a resistance band. So she did a total of six exercises for four minutes each (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off). Then for the second half, we did Pilates that mainly focused on her core. She is becoming a master at the wunda chair. That woman has strength! A real athlete. The routine was hard but simple, and she was sweating. She loved it.

Shape: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Kesha since you started working together?

KR: My type of workout creates a long and lean looking athlete. I want women to feel powerful, empowered, and energized. With Kesha, I’ve noticed such an improvement in strength. With Pilates, she has improved quickly. The moves are very intricate and specific, and she really loves it. She requests it every time she comes.

RELATED: 7 Booty-Sculpting Exercises with a Bonus

Shape: Kesha has an amazing booty. Can you give us your top three tips on how to whip our own backsides into shape?

KR: Kesha and I do a mixture of weight training and Pilates moves to get that booty. I incorporate squats with weights, plyometrics, and lunges. I get creative by using a lot of variations. Then I do moves on the Pilates machines such as the reformer or Cadillac to target her booty. The lunges, squats, and plyo not only target her glutes, hamstrings, and quads, but help boost her heart rate and metabolism. The Pilates moves help with specificity to target and shape the backside.

Shape: Did you help Kesha with her diet? What types of healthy foods and drinks does she like to have?

KR: I did when I was on tour with her. She loves unsweetened iced tea like an iced hibiscus or berry tea. It really quenches the sweet tooth.

Kesha’s Warrior Workout

How it works: Do each exercise for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence three times for a total of 2 minutes, then move to the next exercise. Repeat the entire circuit once more, if desired.

You will need: Dumbbells, mat

Ankle Tap Squat

Stand with feet hip-width apart holding dumbbells. Squat down, keeping weight in heels, chest up, eyes forward, and core engaged. Try to lower the weights as close to ankles as possible. Return to starting position.

Hammer Curl to Shoulder Press

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells with palms facing in. Curl dumbbells to shoulder height. At the top of the movement, extend arms above head. Reverse direction to starting position.

Pushup Pull

Get in plank position with arms wider than shoulders and a dumbbell on either side of you. Inhale as you bend elbows out to the side to perform a pushup, lowering chest as close to the floor as possible. Exhale, pushing back up to plank. Grab dumbbell with right hand and perform a row, bending elbow and pulling dumbbell to ribcage while keeping hips pointing toward the floor. Lower dumbbell to the floor. Repeat, rowing with left arm. Continue, alternating arms.

Plyo Jump Lunge

Stand in a lunge with right foot forward, energy in right heel, and left heel lifted. Keeping body as upright as possible, chest open, and abs engaged, bend left knee toward the floor, making sure right knee is in line with ankle and does not go over toes. Jump up, switching leg position so you land with left foot forward and right foot back. Continue, alternating legs.

Leg Kick-Up Plank

Get in plank position, arms shoulder-width apart and body forming a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Keeping butt low, lift right leg, kicking toward the sky. Lower to starting position and kick with left leg. Continue, alternating legs.


Stand and run in place, lifting knees as high as possible and making sure not to lean back.

Plank Oblique Dip

Get in forearm plank position with arms shoulder-width apart and shoulders over elbows. Dip right hip toward the floor. Lift hips back to center and dip left hip toward the floor. Continue, alternating sides.


Perform each exercise for 30 seconds in order, resting 10 seconds between exercises.

For more info on celeb trainer Kit Rich, visit her official website or connect with her on Twitter.

  • By Kristen Aldridge

Kesha Opens Up About Hiding Food at the Height of Her Eating Disorder: I Was ‘Slowly Starving Myself’

Sam Wasson/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Kesha is opening up about the severity of her eating disorder and reveals the lengths she went to in order to keep her battle secret.

In her new Rolling Stone cover interview, the pop star shares the pressure she felt to be a certain size to find success in the music industry, recalling, “I really just thought I wasn’t supposed to eat food.”

“And then if I ever did, I felt very ashamed, and I would make myself throw up because I’d think, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe I actually did that horrible thing. I’m so ashamed of myself because I don’t deserve to eat food,’ ” she admitted.

Over time, she said, “I was slowly, slowly starving myself.”

It didn’t help that those around her were championing her weight loss. “The worse I got and the sicker I got, the better a lot of people around me were saying that I looked. They would just be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, keep doing whatever you’re doing! You look so beautiful, so stunning.’ “

Trying to hide the disorder from her circle brought even more anxiety. Once at a dinner party, she said, she couldn’t figure out how to dispose of her uneaten meal. “And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what if they walk outside and see this food in a bush? Or they see it in the garbage can?’ And I just had all this mounting anxiety,” she said. “And then finally I was like, ‘F—. This. S—. F— this s—. I’m hungry!’ And I am so anxious that I feel like I’m going to explode from all the secrets. All the secret times I’m pretending to eat or other times I’m purging, and I’m trying to not let anybody know.”

The star, 30, said she was physically “shaking” from frustration: “I was just mad that I had let myself get to that point.”

Image zoom Peggy Sirota for Rolling Stone

It was soon after that she asked her mom to meet her, admitting, “I didn’t know how to even eat. At that point, I’d forgotten how to do it.”

With her mother’s help, she made the move to a rehabilitation program, which she completed in 2014. Yet, even after, Kesha said she still felt “like a loser.”

RELATED VIDEO: Zayn Malik Opens Up About Depression and Eating Disorder in Autobiography

It was a friend in the industry, she said, that helped her finally realize what she’d overcome. “He was like, ‘Congratulations to you,’ ” she shared, recalling a phone call from the friend after he received several Grammy awards. “And I was like, ‘For what?’ And he was like, ‘Who cares about my Grammys? You just saved your f—ing life.’ And I just was blown away by that, because it made me look at the whole thing totally differently.”

Kesha told Rolling Stone she realized, “Oh, wait. I did just take my life into my own hands and choose life over a slow, painful, shameful self-imposed death.”

The star has opened up about her struggle before, encouraging those with eating disorders to seek help. As she shared in a PSA for the National Eating Disorders Association, “Recovery is possible.”

Kesha uncensored selfies photos bra size height weight body stats are the talk of the town since the American singer songwriter made a comeback.

Born Kesha Rose Sebert on March 01, 1987, Kesha is a US rapper and singer. When she was only 18 years old, she signed with Kemosabe Records in 2005, however, her breakthrough came in the beginning of 2009 when she made an appearance on Flo Rida’s hit single ‘Right Round.’ Kesha’s debut album was ‘Animal.’

Her first extended play was titled ‘Cannibal’ and it was released in 2010. Kesha reached immediate fame through her music and image.

SEE HERE: Kesha Uncensored Selfies Photos

Besides being a singer, Kesha frequently wrote songs for other performers including Britney Spears. Kesha’s second album was released in 2012. One of the songs in the album ‘Tik Tok’ is one of the best-selling digital singles in history with 14 million units sold to date.

Kesha music is inspired by many artists and genres of the yesteryears. She is greatly inspired by Queen, Madonna, and Beck. She has worked with pop rock, country and electronic music. However, she is most comfortable with the latter.

Kesha uncensored selfies photos bra size height weight body stats have been the talk of the town since she is in the midst of a comeback.

She is still tangled in the legal battles because Sony Music does not intend to release the singer from a contract that binds her to Dr. Luke. Kesha has said that Dr. Luke assaulted her sexually.

Kesha is currently writing new music. Moreover, several appearances on TV have allowed her to creep back into public domain. The young artist says that she will not be hindered in her professional pursuits by a bunch of body shamers. Recently, she posted an uncensored selfie on Instagram after she spent a weekend at a famous resort.

Singer Kesha is definitely coming back on the scene. Her previous image of a party girl may hinder with her progress but there is every chance that she will be able to get her place back in the music industry.

Kesha Body Measurements:

Kesha uncensored selfies photos bra size height weight body stats begin with her bust which is 36 inches. One can say that she is well-endowed in this category.

Her waist is 28 inches, and her back is 37 inches. This is an ample measurement that makes men drool over her feminine figure. Her dress size is 8 while her bra size is 34B.

Kesha claims Dr. Luke fat-shamed weight loss, raped her: producer claims slander

Singer Kesha leveled a barrage of charges at Dr. Luke and he counter-attacked. The “TikTok” singer accuses her producer of fat-shaming her weight loss plan. She also texted Lady GaGa claiming he’d drugged and raped her and another performer. Dr. Luke (the professional nickname of Lukasz Gottwald) is suing Kesha Sebert over “defaming” rape claims. Gottwald says the realy body-shamers are Kesha’s family and handlers who micromanage her diet and bully her into weight loss.

Kesha fat-shamed over Diet Coke

Kesha (whose stage name is spelled Ke$ha) released emails from Dr. Luke faulting her failed dieting and weight loss attempts. Kesha was the victim of online bullying over pictures showing belly fat and possible early obesity. Gottwald allegedly criticized her for drinking Diet Coke. But the super-producer says the weight loss gig was her idea and the folks everyone should go after for fat-shaming are in her own camp. Evidently handlers and family members have tried to control her junk food addiction and their interventions are done with very little tact.

Kesha bullied into weight loss?

Is Dr. Luke justifying his own shaming behavior? He seems to defend bullying the celebrity by saying others bully her more. He also appears to think that because someone tries to lose weight, they automatically open themselves up to critique. Few addicts find sobriety, recovery, weight loss from the nagging of others. It’s been said that Kesha developed an eating disorder as a result of bullying by her producer.

Anorexia oftens stems from shaming which creates a false body image. Regardless of who is Kesha’s biggest critic, body-shaming isn’t going to work, period.

Dr. Luke denounces Kesha’s rape claims

Other hot button issues between Gottwald and the singer are her sexual assault charges. Reportedly Kesha accused Dr. Luke of raping an unnamed artist in texts to Lady GaGa. The texts asserted that she herself had been molested by him as well.

Gottwald counter-claims that the “We R Who We R” singer is trying to get him blacklisted in the music industry and playing the rape card to do so. He included defamation of character in his lawsuit against Kesha. The two have gone head to head over changing lyrics in the song “Crazy Kids” which he says was done to appease Kesha. The singer is trying to break her contract with Dr. Luke and Sony and the producer feels she is maligning his reputation to get out of the six-album deal.

I’ve never forgotten the first time I saw Kesha. It was at T in the Park 2011, an otherwise unmemorable weekend festival in Scotland. During her main-stage performance, the woman then known as Ke$ha told the crowd that she had one pressing question. “Is there,” she said, prolonging the anticipation, “enough glitter on my titties?” The noisy consensus was no, there was not, so her accomplices doused her in a can of lager and an explosion of gold that left her looking like the daughter of C-3PO and Dolly Parton.

These gleeful exploits defined Kesha Rose Sebert as a pop star for a while. She followed her defiantly trashy 2010 debut, Animal, with the equally riotous Warrior in 2012, becoming a trailblazer for hedonistic pop. Then she disappeared. In 2016, a new image emerged: Kesha wearing a white suit, sobbing in court as she tried to escape her contract with the producer Dr Luke (AKA Lukasz Gottwald), whom she accused of sexual and emotional abuse including date rape and bullying that led to her developing an eating disorder. He denied the allegations. Her case was dismissed. While she could pick new collaborators, she still had to record for his label, an imprint of Sony, and he countersued for defamation.

Kesha’s third album, 2017’s Rainbow, arrived during her legal struggles. While she couldn’t sing about her alleged strife, she made her stance plain: “When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name,” she belted on Praying. The rockier, more personal album earned her the best reviews of her career. “I was not used to having nice press,” Kesha says with a small, stunned laugh. “It was shocking, and also at a time where I so needed kindness.”

But the validation left her feeling uneasy. “I don’t feel as if I’m beholden to be a tragedy just because I’ve gone through something that was tragic,” she says. “That’s really important for people to know – you do not have to be defined by something that was done to you.”

It is early October. Kesha, now 32 and newly brunette, has just debuted her new album, High Road, at a glitzy playback for the media. A few downbeat songs aside, her new music revitalises her rowdy trademark sound – in the way that Tina Turner and Rihanna did after rejecting their own victim narratives. “After Praying, people thought I’d always take the high road,” she tells us, handing out tequila. “And this song is about getting super fucking high.”

A while later, the drink worn off, Kesha sits in a hotel room. She is wearing enough gold chains to deflect a bullet and the glitter is back: translucent blue hearts encrusted beneath her eyes; gothic, bejewelled nails that look like 10 mini Iron Thrones crowning heavily tattooed arms. But she is nervous, speaking carefully and often steering her answers back to her gratitude for her fans’ kindness – not so much platitudes, more a conversational safety net for a woman legally prevented from discussing certain things. She returns that kindness, too. When I ask for advice about a shared experience, she goes off-record and is so compassionate that I have to pull myself together before continuing.

Before starting her fourth album, Kesha didn’t think she deserved to make happy music. “I can be so fucking mean to myself,” she says, sighing at the understatement. Her brother told her she should be writing pop songs, the thing she was good at. “And I was pissed!” she says. “I don’t do well with people telling me what to do, and I was so conflicted about what I wanted versus what was expected of me, and trying to please everyone is exhausting.”

She wrote her defiance into a rumbling thigh-slapper called My Own Dance: “What’s a girl to do? / You’re the party girl / You’re the tragedy / But the funny thing is I’m fucking everything.” She still had to be talked into following the poppy direction it suggested. “There was an element of not feeling like I should be celebratory because of everything I’ve gone through so publicly.” She pushed through: on High Road, wine is smuggled in handbags, impromptu drunk tattoos are inked, plentiful highs are toked.

On Jimmy Kimmel Live! in October 2019. Photograph: REX/

It is as rebellious for Kesha to make feckless pop now as it was a decade ago. Then, she preached crashing the party, “pissing in the Dom Perignon” and the sexual liberation of women and LGBTQ people. She was seen as an emblem of the post-recession generation, revelling in the wreckage of their promised future. While she wasn’t consciously addressing the economy, she says she related to “growing up without extravagance”, recalling her mother, the Nashville songwriter Pebe Sebert, using food stamps. “But she still found a way to make life very joyful, and I never felt like I went without.”

Kesha never knew her father – never wanted to, although she contemplates what that might have been like on a softer new song, Father Daughter Dance – and says her childhood fostered her “nihilistic” approach to life: “Nothing matters, the world is going to burn up one day so I might as well have a good time while I’m here, because what is the point of life? I don’t know. But I have found that speaking from the heart and creating have made me more able to cope with that intensity.”

Kesha’s verve excited Dr Luke. After he heard a country song and a goofy rap number that she had recorded during her mum’s studio time, his interest was piqued by the latter and he brought the teenager to work with him in Los Angeles. The newly christened Ke$ha released her debut single, Tik Tok, in 2009. It spent nine weeks at No 1 in the US and announced the loud arrival of a new pop archetype: the female libertine who brushed her teeth “with a bottle of Jack” before an all-nighter.

The outraged response is quaint to revisit, not least because she steals a pushbike in the video. “There was some quote that said: ‘Everyone’s acting like Kesha is walking door to door selling butt plugs and heroin.’ I remember thinking, this is it!” She laughs. “I’m literally talking about everything that men have sung about since the beginning of music.” Not that she minded – it proved her point. “The Stooges are my favourite band and Iggy is my god. If I’m not ruffling feathers, I’m not a true child of punk rock.”

Kesha leaves court, 2016. Photograph: Alo Ceballos/GC Images

She started something: soon Miley Cyrus became the twerking, tongue-lolling Miley Cyrus, Sia’s self-obliteration anthems reigned and Icona Pop’s I Love It (“I don’t care”) gave a generation its soundtrack. But 10 years on, pop has gone dark, its stars battling anxiety over political and environmental apocalypse. While Kesha isn’t surprised, she still thinks escapism is a noble pursuit. “Since the beginning of making music, I wanted to make people happy.”

Though she has had to redefine her own version of escapism. She has alleged that Dr Luke repeatedly told her that all she was supposed to be was fun, and that he limited her music’s emotional reach to capitalise on this image. Meanwhile, she stated in legal filings, he put her “under immense pressure to starve myself”, an endeavour that she says nearly killed her. She went to rehab for an eating disorder in 2014 and ditched the dollar sign from her name. These days, she doesn’t care how anyone thinks she looks: “My body, my business” is her abiding philosophy.

Understandably, she doesn’t care if anyone thinks that her return to pop is “inauthentic”. She avoided Auto-Tune and rapping on Rainbow because it didn’t feel right. Both are back on High Road. “And the beauty of it is that it was under my consent,” she says pointedly. She has always wanted to be more involved with music production, and recalls a cross-country road trip with her brother in her teens: she was making beats in the sweltering car, only pausing recording to open a window so they didn’t faint.

Luke gave her little creative control. She executive-produced Rainbow and High Road and her new collaborators have to respect her assertiveness, but being respected in the studio is still not always a given. “I’ve realised it’s OK to have boundaries, to have an opinion and to know what you want,” she says. “And it doesn’t make you a bitch.” While she prizes her authority in the studio, vulnerability has become a survival mechanism. “I spent a lot of my career and life thinking the way to protect myself was to be strong: I don’t give a fuck, you can’t hurt me,” she says.

But to witness the music industry laud her emotional honesty sometimes felt like another kind of expoitation. As part of the 2018 Grammy awards’ support of #TimesUp, Kesha performed Praying, backed by female musicians including Cyndi Lauper and Camila Cabello. She wept at the end. It was moving, but left a bad taste: a woman exposing her pain for the industry that allegedly enabled it, on a night where only one woman won a major award and the Grammys president suggested women “step up” if they wanted recognition.

Kesha’s lasting memory of the night is one of solidarity, “getting a giant hug from all these people that the media had previously pitted against each other. It was us saying no.” She considers my perspective. “It’s interesting because I was putting a very traumatic experience on display, but it was something I consented to. I was also terrified. But if something terrifies me, I feel like it may be important. Even if it sounds like utter hell and I just weep on the microphone, at least I tried.”

The #MeToo movement saddens her. “That enough people have been assaulted and treated poorly that there has to be an entire movement,” she says. She has no idea whether things have changed for younger, apparently freer peers such as Billie Eilish “because you never really know what’s going on behind the scenes. Because for a long period, people had no idea what was going on behind the scenes with me.”

The backdrop to the revelry of Kesha’s fourth album is ongoing legal strife: her second appeal against Dr Luke’s defamation case was denied in October; the case is ongoing. To cope, she says she has to avoid living in the past, or thinking too much about the future. “I truly feel like I’ve been through the shit and I have earned my happiness back,” she says emphatically. “I have God only knows the amount of therapy bills and meditation apps and transcendental meditation retreats.” She thrusts her right fist open in emphasis, revealing an eye tattooed on her palm.

But she hasn’t softened. In May, she attended a Grammys event wearing a diamante muzzle to protest against Alabama’s abortion ban. She didn’t anticipate a renewed assault on reproductive rights when she was singing about sex so freely 10 years ago. “It’s really archaic,” she says. She describes the era when American iconography – the dollar sign and flag – littered her work as “a very different time”. It was subversive, but also a bit patriotic. “Obama was president. We agreed upon not everything, but a lot of things.”

She would be unlikely to wear the stars and stripes today. “Very basic human rights – women’s rights, trans rights, gay rights, gun control – are being challenged and ruining people’s lives. The basis of my constitution is all humans should be treated equally and lovingly.” She sighs. “Musicians used to be the rebellious ones. But now I feel an overwhelming responsibility to be as empathetic and kind and loving and as safe of a place as humanly possible for people.”

She thinks back to staging her first cruise in February – it sailed from Florida to the Bahamas and saw her play to fans alongside other acts including Betty Who, Girl Talk and Big Freedia. She had no idea what to expect and was moved by her fans’ community spirit. While often “totally fucked, walking around naked”, they looked after one another.

There was one guy she’ll never forget, who was paralysed from the neck down. “The other fans were helping him dance with his arms because he didn’t have control over them, and putting glitter in his beard,” she says. “It was so beautiful to see people being so kind and understanding and allowing each other to be exactly who the fuck they wanted.” Here was what defined her, a reclaimed kingdom built on debauchery and respect.

High Road is released on 10 Jan 2020 on RCA.

SINGER Kesha showed off her curves in a tiny black string bikini as she holidayed with her boyfriend Brad Ashenfelter.

The Tik Tok singer was bare-faced as she relaxed by the pool during their Palm Springs break.

5 Kesha showed off her curves on a Palm Springs breakCredit: Splash News 5 The singer was joined by boyfriend BradCredit: Splash News 5 Kesha’s not afraid to show off her cleavage on the red carpetCredit: Getty Images – WireImage

The pictures show Kesha, 29, chilling by white sun loungers at the luxury hotel L’Horizon Resort Palm Springs.

Her tattooed partner also took in the rays, stretching out poolside while wearing dark shades.

But it wasn’t long before the pair, who have been dating for two years, jumped into the pool to cool down, with Kesha tying her hair up underneath a black cap.

5 Kesha chilled by the poolside in a tiny string bikiniCredit: Splash News

The couple looked loved-up as they hugged in the water and Brad carried his girlfriend, who lifted up her legs to show her nail varnished toes.

This year has seen Brad be a rock of support for Kesha, as the singer remains embroiled in a legal battle with Sony producer Dr Luke.

The star alleged in 2014 that he both physically and emotionally abused her – both of which the music man has denied.

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In April, Kesha’s appeal against her “restrictive” record contract with the music giant – as well as claims she was a victim of hate crime – were thrown out of court completely.

Earlier this week the body-confident star uploaded pictures of herself almost spilling out of her bikini.

View this post on Instagram

well. hmm. that don’t fit huh

A post shared by Kesha (@iiswhoiis) on Jun 19, 2016 at 9:07pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

much love to @lhorizonpalmsprings for always resetting my chakras ❤️

A post shared by Kesha (@iiswhoiis) on Jun 19, 2016 at 3:59pm PDT

Uploading the shot to her Instagram page the curvy blonde added the words: “Well. hmm. that don’t fit huh.”

Her fans didn’t see the skimpy bikini as a fashion problem and instead gushed over the blonde’s stunning figure.

One wrote: “Eh, looks sexier that way while another added: “Hey cutie, love them booty.”

Another added: “Kesha’s looking gorgeous and sexy and hot these days.”

5 Kesha is embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with Dr LukeCredit: Getty Images – FilmMagic

Last month Kesha, 29, took to her Instagram account to slam brutal bodyshamers while revealing her battle with an eating disorder.

She has been candid in chatting about her weight issues and revealed she had previously sought treatment in rehab for an eating disorder.

In the lengthy message she wrote: “I have been battling depression and an eating disorder for a while now.

“My career is in a strange place and it feels like I’m fighting uphill for some days. But I have decided to take my life back. My freedom. My happiness. My voice. My worth.

“I will not just f**king be quiet and hide today I will say f**k it and live.

So f**k it. today I’m making that choice.”

Got a story? email [email protected] or call us direct on 02077824220

Kesha reveals eating disorder made her ‘hate’ herself but now she’s a ‘strong, bad*** woman’


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  • Taylor Swift sparks engagement speculation after she’s seen rocking huge ring in her new documentary Miss Americana
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  • Lil Wayne pays homage to Kobe Bryant by including 24 seconds of silence on his new album Funeral
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“Can we start again?” The tall woman in the vintage Stones T-shirt isn’t happy with her scream. She’s standing in a vocal booth, sweating a bit. “When I sing really high,” she says, “it makes me really hot. And not in a sexy way.” The stately guitar riffage of T. Rex’s 1972 nugget “Children of the Revolution” kicks back in, and this time Kesha greets it with a feral “Yowww!” Way better. She carries on.

“You can bump and grind,” she yelps, at the top of her range, big vibrato fluttering, “if it’s
 good for your mind.” As she sings, her hands weave tapestries in the air. Each of her long, manicured fingernails has a tiny, perfect rainbow painted on it; there are turquoise bracelets on both of her wrists. Out in the control room, producer Hal Willner, a white-haired, Falstaffian 61-year-old, nods along – the track is intended for a multi-artist tribute LP he’s assembling for late T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan, one of Kesha’s many old-rock-dude heroes (she calls him her “glitter twin,” and name-checked T. Rex’s Electric Warrior on the 2012 track “Wherever You Are”).

This evening’s session 
is at Los Angeles’ the Village studios, an old-school-luxe complex that birthed albums from Aja to Tusk to Doggystyle. Kesha is currently howling her way through her sixth take of the night, after shrugging off the jacket of her custom-made shiny-striped suit, which she’s complemented with cowboy boots. She sounds great, looks cool. But who even is this person? Clearly, the old Ke$ha – she of the digitally enhanced vocals and the half-rapping and the whiskey-assisted dental hygiene and the party at a rich dude’s house – can’t come to the phone right now. At age 30, as she recovers from an eating disorder that nearly killed her and an ugly, still-unresolved legal battle with her long-time producer, Kesha Rose Sebert wants us to meet the real her, at last.

A Nashville friend who guides her through “yoga and chanting and stuff,” advising her on mantras – “hippie shit” – told her that “we all want to be seen,” a piece of wisdom that resonated. “I feel like myself,” says Kesha, “for the first time ever. And I made a record I’m extremely proud of, from the bottom of my guts – I excavated the most gnarly lyrics that were so difficult for me. And people still like it! It’s really beautiful, and it’s very healing. I feel like I’m being seen for what I actually am, and people are OK with it.”

The gut excavation resulted in the eclectic Rainbow, her long-delayed third album, which turned out to be one of this year’s best – raw, emotionally complex, a total surprise. If the old Kesha hits, for all their fun, had a hint of the robotic, this untamed music could be heard as a Westworld-style rebellion. She leans hard into rock & roll, especially on two bouncy tracks recorded with Eagles of Death Metal, whom she’s known since she was a teen superfan, sneaking into their shows and becoming a band pal by age 14. “I was like, ‘You want us to be on the record,’” says that band’s frontman, Jesse Hughes, “‘when there’s a lot on the line?’” Hughes notes that he ended up doing some engineering on the session, because one of Kesha’s producers was so deep into modern pop that he “wasn’t really that sure how to mic live drums.”

There’s country, too, appropriately enough for an artist who spent some of her childhood in Nashville, practicing yodeling in her backyard. She duets with Dolly Parton on “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You),” an old song co-written by Kesha’s mom and frequent collaborator, Pebe Sebert – it was a country smash for Parton back in 1980. On “Hunt You Down,” Kesha pursues an unexpected Sun Studio rockabilly vibe, with the help of Lana Del Rey collaborator Rick Nowels. “What we did,” he says, “was very, very natural for her.”

Rainbow debuted at Number One in August – not bad for an album that Kesha says she wasn’t sure would ever come out. “I’ve been through a lot,” she says, “and a lot we can’t talk about.” She has decided not to say a further word about her war with her former producer, Dr. Luke, to not even utter his name in our time together. She sued him in 2014, accusing him of “years of unrelenting abuse” and alleging that he raped her – accusations that Luke, born Lukasz Gottwald, denied without equivocation (“I didn’t rape Kesha, and I have never had sex with her,” he tweeted) and countered with defamation and breach-of-contract lawsuits. He contends that Kesha manufactured the allegations to try to get out of her contracts with him.

There is no end in sight to the conflict, but Kesha at least got her album out, on Kemosabe, the Sony-owned label Dr. Luke founded but no longer runs, after his deal with Sony expired earlier this year. (Dr. Luke’s reps argued that there was actually never anything stopping her from releasing the album – his lawyer, Christine Lepera, said that “she exiled herself.” Kesha’s reps have contended that the option of recording without Dr. Luke wasn’t offered until after she sued, and that Luke is suing her under a clause in her contract that requires him to produce at least six songs on her albums.) Now, Kesha seems to be itching to move past the whole thing. “I could fight forever,” she sings on the new album, “but life’s too short.” And there is, it turns out, so much else to talk about.

(Hughes is less discreet on the subject. “When she was going through her shit,” he says, unprompted, “we were like her big brothers. I was like, ‘Who do I fuck up? You want me to go to his place right now? You want me to beat that fucking contract out of him right now? I will.’ That’s how strongly I felt about it. That’s not even a lie, man.”)

Kesha strolls into the control room and listens to her voice glide over a backing track recorded earlier by Elvis Costello’s band the Imposters, with Wayne Kramer of the MC5 on guitar. Anticipating this collaboration the other night, Kesha was “playing MC5 records and crying,” she says. “‘Kick Out the Jams’ is one of the greatest songs. The first time I heard that song, I went down a rabbit hole, with MC5 and then Iggy Pop. It was basically the beginning of my life. I was 10 years old!” It would be foolish to underestimate Kesha’s music geekery, which in her teenage years extended to stuff as obscure as Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk: “I figured that, if anything, she’d try to be the next PJ Harvey or something,” says Hughes. But instead, she signed her deal with Dr. Luke at age 18, plunging into the great American pop machinery of the past decade.

As her version of “Children of the Revolution” plays on, Kesha wrinkles her freckled, gold-ring-adorned nose in suspicion. Does it sound too good? “Is there anything on it?” she asks, wondering what studio magic might be at work. Just a little reverb, she’s told. “It sounds like you’re live with that band,” says Willner, employing a bedside manner honed over decades.

“That’s how I want it to sound,” she says. She raises an admonishing finger, eyes narrowed: “Do not even touch a button of Auto-Tune!”

“We wouldn’t even know how to use it,” Willner replies. She laughs, relieved. An hour later, she gets to hear a near-final version of the song, comped from several of her takes. “That sounds fucking good,” she says, and gives an exultant pelvic thrust, directed at no one in particular, or at least no one in the room. What was that, someone asks, amid general laughter. “Y’know, it’s not a motion for anyone to suck my dick,” she says unconvincingly, and giggles.

Her first two albums, especially the debut, are rife with digitally manipulated vocals, a stylistic choice that was too easy to mistake for a crutch. A lyric to a Rainbow outtake called “Emotional,” released as a Japanese bonus track, suggests how deep this issue goes: “When they say I can’t sing/I just want to die.” But it’s not just the Auto-Tune she’s over. It’s the idea of “perfect,” the whole glossy, airbrushed, starved, impossible nightmare of it. “Perfect” made her sick, quite literally. “I don’t know how to deal with that word,” she says. “‘Perfect’ is a tricky word. Because it’s like, ‘What the fuck is perfect? And who gets to decide?’ Like, they can shove it up their ass.” Instead, she wants to be human, to be vulnerable, to let her life veer off-pitch once in a while, so that “maybe some kid out there” – in a society that offers a selfie-tweaking app called Facetune – “would be like, ‘Oh, that’s OK, to be just a person.’”

Kesha is crying. Not sobbing or anything, but her already sparkly blue-gray eyes are getting shiny with tears. She’s adjourned to a break room covered in dark wood that evokes the studio’s long-ago past as a Masonic temple, and also looks not unlike the creepy basement in Get Out. Kesha has choked herself up thinking about her fans, how “unwavering” they’ve been. She doesn’t mention it, but some of them went as far as holding public protests to try to get her out of her record contract: “Free Kesha,” their signs and hashtags read. “I don’t know what I did,” she says, voice catching, “to deserve such wonderful people in my life.”

In a New York court last February, Kesha burst into tears as a judge ruled against her request for a quick injunction that would allow her to record for a different label. (The same judge later dismissed the bulk of her case, in a decision Kesha is appealing even as Dr. Luke’s defamation lawsuit continues, with no trial date in sight.) As photos of that moment and word of the judgment spread, her cause became an international sensation, with many of music’s most famous women (and some men) expressing solidarity: Adele did so onstage at the Brit Awards, and Taylor Swift went as far as to donate $250,000 toward Kesha’s expenses. Swift, Kesha says, “is a fucking sweetheart. Very, very sweet, very, very genuine, extremely generous, picks up the phone every time I call her. My mom doesn’t even always pick up the phone!” And, as for Swift’s latest controversies: “I’m not really up on my pop culture. Should I know something about it? I live in my record player.”

A few minutes later, Kesha begins to cry again, this time thinking about being on the cover of Rolling Stone. “It was my dream since I was a little kid,” she says the next day. “I had Rolling Stone covers all over my bedroom at my mom’s house. They’re grateful tears. They’re not sad tears.”

No doubt, she’s been emotional lately – cracked wide open, really. “I have nothing to hide,” she says. “The beautiful, the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it.” Recovery from an eating disorder, she explains, brings with it the same kind of eyes-wide-open, shivering-newborn-chick sensitivity that recovering addicts experience. One of Rainbow‘s co-writers and co-producers, Ricky Reed, remembers her dissolving into tears during sessions and needing some encouragement early on. “I love your ideas,” he ended up telling her. “You are a good songwriter. Anybody who’s ever told you otherwise is wrong.”

Some of the album offers a direct window on her feelings during a three-month stay at a women’s inpatient facility called Timberline Knolls, outside Chicago. She wrote a bunch of songs there, after persuading the administration to let her have a battery-operated keyboard. She wasn’t allowed to use one with a cord “because you don’t want to have anything that could be at all used for suicide. And I was like, ‘I respect all of that, but please let me have a keyboard or my brain’s going to explode. My head has all these song ideas in it, and I just really need to play an instrument.’”

As it was, she needed headphones for the keyboard, so she used it for an hour at a time, under strict supervision. But the songs came out.

Rainbow opens with “Bastards,” a track that encapsulates how far Kesha has strayed from her electro roots. For the first half, all we hear is Kesha’s gorgeous, unadorned voice and an acoustic guitar: “I’ve got too many people that I’ve got left to prove wrong,” she begins. “All those motherfuckers been too mean for too long.” The song came to her while she was in traffic one day; she sang most of it into her phone, and rushed to a guitar as soon as she got home. “It just kind of sums up how I feel about mean people,” she says. “I feel like being nice is not overrated.”

She felt out of place as early as middle school, where the popular kids bullied her. She was an artsy kid, from a quirky family. She had known she wanted to be a singer from the age of two, and her mom treated her impending recording career as an established fact, saying things like, “When you get to put your first record out …” They would write songs together, “even, like, if we were in a fight about my room not being clean,” Kesha says. “And all of a sudden we would leave the bullshit at the door, and we would get in a room with a piano and a guitar and write the most sincere beautiful music. You really can’t front when you write with your mom.”

Kesha made her own
 clothes, plotted music videos from the age of nine.
 But, again, none of that went
 over too well in school. “I re
fused to conform,” Kesha
 recalls, “and they refused
 to be nice.” At one point,
 some kids played an elaborate prank that ended with
 her hands tied to a cafete
ria table – a lunch lady had
 to cut her loose. She took to
eating lunch in the bathroom. Later, she would sneak out to spend lunch with a boyfriend who worked at a guitar store. Years afterward, as she sat at awards shows “next to Rihanna and Katy Perry and all that,” those feelings came back: “I just felt like so the outcast, the same person sitting at the lunch table.” Rainbow ends with “Spaceship,” in which she imagines a return to some alien planet where she will finally feel at home.

For many years, Kesha felt that she had to “be a certain size,” and took increasingly extreme measures to get there. She says that “certain people” around her would shame her for wanting to eat. (In court papers, she accused Dr. Luke of calling her a “fat fucking refrigerator” – he denies pressuring her to lose weight.) “I really just thought I wasn’t supposed to eat food,” she recalls. She doesn’t hesitate on this topic, doesn’t get emotional, even in its darkest corners. She wants people to know this story, wants to be an example of getting help and becoming healthy. “And then if I ever did, I felt very ashamed, and I would make myself throw up because I’d think, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe I actually did that horrible thing. I’m so ashamed of myself because I don’t deserve to eat food.” Which, on some level, means she decided she didn’t deserve to live. She nods at that. “I was slowly, slowly starving myself. And the worse I got and the sicker I got, the better a lot of people around me were saying that I looked. They would just be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, keep doing whatever you’re doing! You look so beautiful, so stunning.’”

She remembers it all coming to a head at a dinner party with friends and family. She sat there, pretending to eat, trying to figure out how she could hide her food. “And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what if they walk outside and see this food in a bush? Or they see it in the garbage can?’ And I just had all this mounting anxiety. And then finally I was like, ‘Fuck. This. Shit. Fuck this shit. I’m hungry!’ And I am so anxious that I feel like I’m going to explode from all the secrets. All the secret times I’m pretending to eat or other times I’m purging, and I’m trying to not let anybody know. And I’m just fucking sick of this shit. And I remember just shaking because I was so fed up, so anxious, and I was just mad that I had let myself get to that point.”

Soon afterward, she pulled her car in to a gas station parking lot and asked her mom to meet her there. She needed help. “I didn’t know how to even eat,” she says. “At that point, I’d forgotten how to do it.” Her mom flew with her to rehab, where a nutritionist taught Kesha how to keep herself alive. “I just remember crying into a carbohydrate,” she says, “being like, ‘I can’t eat it. It’s going to make me fat, and if I’m fat, I can’t be a singer because pop stars can’t eat food – they can’t be fat.’”

But even as she started to get her health back, she felt “like a loser.” At least until a friend in the music business, one she won’t name, called her the day after he won several Grammys. “He was like, ‘Congratulations to you,’” she says. “And I was like, ‘For what?’ And he was like, ‘Who cares about my Grammys? You just saved your fucking life.’ And I just was blown away by that, because it made me look at the whole thing totally differently.” She realized, “Oh, wait. I did just take my life into my own hands and choose life over a slow, painful, shameful self-imposed death. And I need to stop just being so fucking mean to myself.”

And what else did she learn in rehab? She laughs. “See album Rainbow,” she says.

Kesha is touchingly protective of Ke$ha, her old self. It’s almost as if she’s her own big sister. You might expect her to disavow some of her old music, to dismiss it as juvenilia or to blame Dr. Luke or the industry at large for crafting a false image – especially since her lawsuit said that Dr. Luke “fully controlled the content” of her albums and that he “forced” her to record “lyrics and songs that she did not wish to include.” (He denies all of this.) But instead, she maintains that “Tik Tok” and her other hits simply reflected her younger, wilder self. Sure, she worshipped Bob Dylan and Alice Cooper, but she also loved early Beastie Boys, and it was the rhyming-crunk-with-junk part of her that emerged first. Not to mention tracks like the pride anthem “We R Who We R,” which means as much to her fans as “Born This Way” does to Gaga’s.

“I loved what I was doing when I was doing it,” she says. “It was so much fucking fun! I wouldn’t change all the Worst Dressed lists, I wouldn’t change the mohawk, I wouldn’t change all that shit. I’m proud of myself for being that ballsy young girl that was ready to take life by the balls.”

Kesha is smart, Hughes says, to stay connected to her older work. “If you renounce a part of yourself,” he says, “you’re throwing yourself out with the bathwater – not even the baby.”

Despite rumors about the supposed real nature of her rehab, she insists she never had a drug or drinking problem – and that she can be more sure of that than most people, because her treatment program closely examined every aspect of her life. “I looked at everything,” she says. “I used to drink more, and now I don’t. And that’s fine. Truth is, I don’t really like alcohol that much.”

Kesha was “always a feminist,” she says, and she saw value in playfully objectifying dudes (“Turn around, boy/Let me hit that!”) in her lyrics. “I was like, ‘I’m going to talk about men this way and level the playing field.’ And I still think that’s fuckin’ cool of a woman of that age. And I admire a lot of the stuff I did. Because I truly didn’t give a fuck at moments, and that was very cool.” But that could harden into a pose. “There were moments when I was in a lot of emotional pain,” she says, switching gears. “My feelings would get hurt, and I would just pretend like I didn’t give a fuck. It’s a front. Put on glitter, act happy.” Another shift: “And for the most part, I was really happy.”

She was also, however, according to her lawsuit, “broken, damaged and traumatized,” and “lived in constant 
fear” of Dr. Luke. (Again, he denies this.) As she tells it now, it was all happening too fast to take in. She wrote and recorded all of her 2010 bonus album, Cannibal, in a single month, for instance. “I just felt like I was like, ‘Keep your head above the water, keep going,’” she says, before shifting metaphors: “I was just on a life treadmill, and I was sprinting.”

On the afternoon following her studio session, Kesha has an appointment to get a tattoo. She already has more than 30 of them, including a huge tiger head on the back of her left hand. She got her first one, an anchor on her wrist, from a dude she met on the streets during a trip to Cuba in her late teens. The guy tried to sell her a couch – but when she said she wanted a tattoo, he brought her upstairs and gave her one. He boiled a needle while holding a baby. Thus began her habit of piling on a series of “by-choice scars.”

Her current tattooist of choice is more legitimate than the rando in Cuba: one Derrick Snodgrass, a handsome, thick-bearded dude in full motorcycle leathers, an acclaimed artist who works in an upscale shop hidden in the back of a downtown L.A. storefront. “You’re making me look scarier and scarier as my life goes on,” Kesha tells him, settling into a red folding chair to have a preliminary stencil drawn on her fingers. “I love it.”

Today, she’s getting an eight-part tattoo across her fingers. She had two ideas: either “Stay free” or “Live free.” Snodgrass insisted on the latter. “Stay free,” he says, “is a tampon commercial.”

“Live free” works for her. “I think,” she says, “that it sets the tone for my life pretty well. … This is never going to be a not-positive message for me.” She’s wearing a long Western-style shirt over a miniskirt and knee-high boots. She lies on her belly for some of the actual tattoo, which hurts a lot, though not as much as the ones on the palms of her hands – the planet Saturn on the left, an eyeball on the right – did. “It’s like being shot over and over,” she mumbles. “Aaaah, fuck my life – my finger doesn’t like this very much!”

But then it’s done. And for good measure, she has Snodgrass fix an adjacent, homemade smiley-face tattoo.

Kesha’s boyfriend, a sweet-faced rocker dude named Brad, is jealous of her stardom-powered freedom to get hand tattoos. He kind of wants her to stop. They live together near the canal in Venice, in a house filled with musical instruments and Kesha’s three cats: Charlie, Mr. Peeps and Queso.

Her stylist introduced her to Brad a few years back, and Kesha was suspicious at first due to his lack of a beard – facial hair had always been a must for her. “Then he kissed me, and it was the nicest kiss I ever had,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Wow, you’re such a pure soul. Holy shit.’ And I knew from that moment, ‘I gotta hold on to you.’” While she was in rehab, he would fly out every weekend to visit. They’d sit and color for a couple of hours – that was their courtship.

She’s not sure how long she plans to stay in Venice, happy as she is there. “I don’t know if I’m ever going to stay in any one place for a couple years at a time,” she says. “I want to live on an island in the Caribbean, on a boat at some point, like that’s a goal. But I don’t know how my cats would feel about it.”

After the tattoo, we stroll through the gentrified downtown streets. When a farm-to-table-y restaurant won’t seat us because it’s not precisely 5:30 yet, we wander over to a chicken coop that, presumably, supplies the place’s eggs.

Kesha has a deep thing for animals. “When I interact with them,” she says, “it’s like this energy exchange.” She is eager to exchange some energy with the four chickens. “I want to pet one,” she says, “but I’m scared I’m going to get a hand infection.” Instead, she grabs a piece of lettuce from inside their pen and tries to feed it to them through the wire. The chickens, heretofore silent, begin clucking to one another, loudly, as if discussing the weird situation – they’re reacting much the way Jerry Seinfeld did on a red carpet this year when Kesha made an unsuccessful attempt to hug him. She translates for the fowl: “Should we trust this lady?”

Trying to befriend a gang of hipster chickens is one thing, but Kesha likes to swim with actual sharks. “I’m like a huge shark ambassador,” she says. “I just feel like they get a bad rep. And they’re so smart.” But don’t they, like, eat people? “It depends on the shark,” she says. “And it depends on where you go, and it depends on your energy, like, how you behave towards the animal, same as how you’d behave towards a person. If you behave aggressively, usually you’ll get aggression back.”

Fair enough. But in a world filled with things that bite, is Kesha going to be all right in the end? To answer that, maybe allow her old friend Hughes to tell a story. Once upon a time, she was smoking weed with the guys from Eagles of Death Metal, circa age 16. Some bro – not a band member – grabbed one of her breasts. She calmly asked him if it was an accident, if he had meant to pass her the joint. No, he replied, and she didn’t hesitate. “She just fuckin’ popped him,” Hughes recalls, with palpable admiration. “Boom! Right in the lips, kind of split his upper lip. Then, she forgave him when he apologized.”

laughs. “I admire her,” he says. “She’s a fuckin’ hero, and she’s
a fighter.” He adds one last salient point: “And she wins.”

The battle dates back to 2014, with no end in sight. Photo: Getty Images

One of the biggest stories in pop music this decade could just as easily be found at any other given time in the history of the music industry: A young female pop star takes her Svengalian big-name boss to court in a fight for freedom. The current face-off surrounds Kesha’s lawsuit against Dr. Luke — her former producer and the former head of Kemosabe Records, the record label she is currently signed to — over accusations ranging from emotional abuse to rape, all of which have have spiraled into a court case that finds Kesha demanding release from her contract.

The legal war between Kesha and Dr. Luke has waged on for over three years, with multiple battles lost on both sides, and no end in sight. With Kesha’s new album Rainbow out today, amid suspicion of Luke’s financial gain from its likely success, it seemed like a good time to take a detailed look at the complete history of the intense ongoing litigation between the two.


September 2005: Kesha Sebert, an 18-year-old singer, who at the time had a small cameo on Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s The Simple Life, signs with Lukasz Gottwald, a.k.a. Dr. Luke, after he hears her demos and convinces her to move from Nashville to Los Angeles. At the time, Luke was best known for producing Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” Kesha signed a six-album deal binding her to his recording and publishing companies, Kasz Money (KMI) and Prescription Songs.

October 2005, the alleged rape: Kesha and Dr. Luke attend Nicky Hilton’s birthday party at her sister Paris’s Hollywood Hills home. According to Kesha’s lawsuit and an account from her mother, Pebe Sebert (who writes for Kesha), while at the party, Luke gave Kesha the date-rape drug GHB (he allegedly described it to her as “sober pills”), took her back to his hotel room, and “raped her while she was unconscious.” Kesha’s mother says she received a call from a disoriented Kesha the following afternoon where Kesha described waking up naked in Luke’s hotel room after blacking out the previous night:

“Mom, I don’t know where I am. I think we had sex. I’m sore and sick. I don’t know where my clothes are. I think I need to go to the hospital,” she recalls of the conversation. Kesha ultimately did not go to the hospital. In a later affidavit, Pebe says Kesha told her, ‘Mom, I just want to sing. I don’t want to be a rape-case victim. I just want to get my music out.’ I didn’t follow my instincts.”

2006: A year passes without Kesha releasing any music under Luke’s label, Kesha signs a management deal with David Sonnerberg’s DAS Communications, which represented the Black Eyed Peas and John Legend, in hopes that they could sign her to a major label. She adopts the infamous dollar sign in her name, professionally becoming Ke$ha.

2008: Despite DAS claiming to have found Kesha a deal with Warner Bros. Records to release her debut album, Kesha leaves her contract with DAS to once again work with Luke, and agrees to have him bring her contract over to RCA Records, a Sony Music Entertainment subsidiary, for distribution of future albums and singles. Both Kesha and DAS have since claimed in court that Luke coerced Kesha into leaving DAS. Kesha once told her mother, “Dr. Luke just called me and I have 24 hours to fire my lawyer and my ­managers and go back with him. Anytime I get a contract, he’s going to come ­forward and basically say he owns me. What do I do?” Despite their termination, DAS continues to keep finding Kesha new work.

2009: Kesha gets her first hit as a featured artist on Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” which Luke produced and co-wrote. The collaboration was happenstance: Kesha had wandered into the studio where Flo Rida was recording just as he realized the song needed a female voice. Kesha remains uncredited on most versions of the song and claims she was never paid.

2009: After nearly five years of artist development, Kesha gets her first solo hit with her debut single “Tik Tok,” which goes on to spend nine weeks at No. 1. Her first album, Animal, also debuts at No. 1 in January 2010, selling 152,000 copies. (This was before Nielsen counted streaming toward Billboard chart totals.)

2010: DAS sues Kesha for $14 million in unpaid commissions on work the company says it got Kesha after she ended their contract. They also sue Dr. Luke for $12 million for allegedly interfering in their partnership with Kesha.

2011, the deposition: It is revealed in the DAS case that Kesha allegedly alerted people involved in her career and personal life as early as 2005, shortly after signing her original deal, that Dr. Luke had “engaged in certain unethical and unlawful actions against her and that she did not want Gottwald to be part of her career going forward.” However, in a deposition for the DAS case that was partially unsealed in 2014 (and that Dr. Luke would eventually use against her), Kesha testifies under oath that “Dr. Luke never made sexual advances at me” or gave her drugs to force her to have sex. Lawyers for Kesha have since argued that Luke had “threatened her safety and livelihood” at the time of the deposition, which also included statements from Kesha’s mother that might have corroborated Kesha’s denial that Dr. Luke acted inappropriately. (Kesha was ultimately ordered to pay a little over half of the money DAS claimed it was owed.)

2011: Dr. Luke co-founds his own Sony imprint, Kemosabe, and is made CEO of the label. Kesha, still under contract with Luke’s KMI and RCA, is brought over to Kemosabe in the deal.

2012: Kesha and Luke’s musical relationship takes a turn for the worse. A New Yorker profile of the producer describes their work on her sophomore album Warrior as “strained,” with Kesha wanting to expand her range to her rock roots and Luke telling her to stick to pop-y club hits. Kesha tweets-and-deletes later in the year that she was “forced” to sing the lyrics on “Die Young,” which faced backlash after the Newtown massacre. She later hints to Rolling Stone that she doesn’t have creative control over her music.


January: Kesha checks into a Chicago rehab facility for 30 days to treat an eating disorder. Her mother later gives an interview blaming Luke for pressuring Kesha to lose weight, which Luke denies. While in rehab, she reportedly “spontaneously” tells doctors that Luke sexually and physically abused her, and also drugged her. After completing treatment, she drops the dollar sign from her name and asks to professionally go by Kesha. “I took out the $ because I realized that was part of the façade,” she recently said of the decision. “It was a journey and I’m happy — that was me in that part of my life. But then I turned a corner.”

October 14, the bombshell lawsuit: Kesha files an explosive lawsuit against Dr. Luke in California claiming sexual assault and battery, including one aforementioned incident (the Nicky Hilton party) where he allegedly forced her to take date-rape drugs and sexually abused her afterward, and another where he “violently thrashed his arms at her,” which led her to run barefoot down the Pacific Coast Highway to escape. The lawsuit also accused Luke of long-term emotional and psychological abuse involving fat-shaming. Kesha claims that Luke’s treatment has caused her “severe depression, post-traumatic stress, social isolation, and panic attacks.” She requests in her lawsuit to be released from her record deal with Dr. Luke, claiming his alleged actions are a breach of contract. No criminal charges are filed.

October 14: That same day, Luke files his own countersuit in New York against Kesha, her mother, Pebe, and manager Jack Rovner for defamation. He denies all allegations in Kesha’s lawsuit and claims it is a ploy to extort him, noting that she testified in 2011 that none of these allegations ever happened.

October 29: Luke files a separate defamation lawsuit against Kesha’s mother, Pebe, in Tennessee, where she lives, in case she tries to argues he has no jurisdiction over her in New York.

December 2: During a radio interview, Lady Gaga says an unnamed music producer sexually assaulted her when she was 19. Kesha’s former lawyer Mark Geragos suggests on Twitter that Gaga was talking about Dr. Luke, which both Gaga and Luke deny. Still, Geragos claims he’ll depose Gaga for Kesha’s lawsuit about her claims. Luke responds by filing a defamation lawsuit against Geragos, which is still ongoing.

December 3: Kesha’s mom countersues Dr. Luke for causing her PTSD and says she’s had to be medicated due to the stress of his alleged abuse against her daughter and the subsequent lawsuit.


June 10: Kesha adds Sony to her original lawsuit against Dr. Luke, arguing that her parent label had knowledge of and enabled Luke’s alleged abuse for years and “turned a blind eye to it.” She claims Sony put Kesha in “physical danger” by allowing her to work with Luke and that at least one other unnamed Sony artist was a victim of Luke’s alleged abuse.

June 17: A judge halts Kesha’s California lawsuit at the request of Luke over a dispute involving a clause in her contract with Luke’s Kemosabe Records, which states that all legal issues must be resolved in New York. Kesha argues that she signed the deal in California and that the alleged abuse outlined in her suit occurred in California.

September: Kesha files an emergency preliminary injunction request in New York court to be released from her record contract with Luke, claiming her career will suffer “irreparable harm” if she must wait until her sexual-assault lawsuit is ruled on in order to be able to record new music without his involvement. She also requests that the court expedite its decision on her original lawsuit. Sony speaks out for the first time, saying the label feels “caught in the crossfire” and wants Kesha’s lawsuit against Sony and Kemosabe dismissed. They call her suit a “transparent and misguided attempt to renegotiate her contracts.”


February 6: Luke’s defamation lawsuits against Kesha’s mom Pebe Sebert and manager Jack Rovner are dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. Days earlier, Pebe tweets that Luke is allegedly refusing to pay Kesha, her songwriters, and producers because Pebe “told the truth about him.” She also claims Luke forced her to give up songwriting credit on Kesha’s last big hit, Pitbull’s “Timber.”

February 19, the injunction loss: In a devastating blow to Kesha’s freedom, a New York judge denies Kesha’s preliminary injunction to be released from her recording contract with Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records. The judge rules that “there has been no showing of irreparable harm” and notes that Sony and Luke have permitted Kesha to record new music without the direct involvement of Luke. Kesha’s lawyers had argued this was an “illusory promise” and that Sony and Luke would not promote her music, which Sony denied. “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry,” the judge says. Kesha is seen sobbing in court, while dozens of fans from the #FreeKesha movement, started in the wake of her lawsuit, rally for her outside the courthouse.

February 21–25: Kesha receives an outpouring of support from other musicians and celebrities. Taylor Swift donates $250,000 to help assist with Kesha’s legal bills; Jack Antonoff offers to produce for her and either leak it or “wait on it till that creep can’t block you anymore”; Lena Dunham writes a letter of support for Kesha and other victims of sexual abuse; Adele gives Kesha a shout-out during her Brit Awards speech; Lady Gaga personally meets with Kesha and warns the public not to victim-shame Kesha for going public about her abuse.

February 22: Dr. Luke speaks publicly for the first time about Kesha’s lawsuit without going through lawyers. He tweets his innocence, saying he “didn’t rape Kesha and have never had sex with her” and that she was “like my little sister.” He maintains Kesha and her mom are “motivated by money.”

February 24: Kesha writes an emotional letter thanking her fans for their continued support. She also responds to Dr. Luke’s extortion claims, saying “This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract — it was never about getting a bigger, or a better deal. This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser.”

February 25: Fans plan to protest Sony’s New York City headquarters in response to the label’s refusal to free Kesha. However, Sony shares a statement saying it is “not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha” because their agreement exists outside Sony’s purview.

March 7: Kelly Clarkson offers more support to Kesha, telling a radio host she was “blackmailed” by her record label (a Sony subsidiary) into working with Dr. Luke on “Since U Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You,” or they would not have released her albums. She describes Luke as “not a good guy,” but does not speak to the specific allegations Kesha has made against him.

March 21, the appeal: Kesha officially appeals the judge’s decision to deny her injunction for freedom from her recording contract. She says the ruling upholds a form of “slavery” in forcing her to work for a company and a man she no longer wants to have anything to do with.

April 3: Kesha reveals on Instagram that Dr. Luke offered her a deal to release her from her record contract if she agreed to recant the accusations of rape made in her sexual-assault lawsuit. Kesha refuses the deal, saying she “would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again.”

April 6: A New York judge throws out Kesha’s counterclaims of abuse against Dr. Luke, disputing Kesha’s argument in her injunction appeal that the terms of Kesha’s agreement with Sony and Dr. Luke are a form of slavery. The judge states Kesha is acting “unreasonably” and that “every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.” The judge also cited a lack of jurisdiction and evidence.

April-May: Kesha begins to rebuild her career, performing at Coachella and Dylan Fest, and releasing a song with Zedd. She also announces a tour with Major Lazer.

April 27: Kesha’s mom drops her countersuit filed in 2014 against Dr. Luke.

May 3: Kesha follows her mother in removing Mark Geragos from her legal representation.

May 22: Kesha wins her fight to perform at the Billboard Music Awards after Dr. Luke and Kemosabe attempted to block her from singing on the show. They allow it on the grounds that Kesha can’t mention Luke or the lawsuit.

August 1, Kesha drops her lawsuit: After nearly two years caught in a legal quagmire, Kesha drops her stalled California abuse lawsuit against Dr. Luke. She instead delivers 28 songs to her label, which she says she financed completely by herself, and puts sole focus on her New York case to be released from her contract. She later describes the situation surrounding new music as songs that are just “sitting somewhere waiting to be completed and polished and released”; Luke disputes the claim, saying Kesha “exiled herself.”

September 1: Dr. Luke sues Kesha’s mom for a second time, claiming she didn’t allow him to amend his original suit with new complaints, but has continued to make defamatory comments about his alleged abuse.


January 31: Dr. Luke threatens to sue Kesha for defamation over a text she allegedly sent to Lady Gaga the week after Kesha lost her injunction claiming Luke raped another artist. In a separate filing, Kesha accuses Luke of being unsupportive of her music and refusing to approve any songs, a release date, or agree to promote it. She claims Luke has financially cut her off and still not paid her royalties from “Timber.”

February 15: Kesha releases emails allegedly from Dr. Luke that she says support her claims that he emotionally abused her. In the emails, Luke appears to intimidate Kesha into dieting, saying, “A-list songwriters and producers are reluctant to give Kesha their songs because of her weight.” Luke claims the emails are taken out of context.

March 10: Lawyers for Dr. Luke move to subpoena Kesha fan Michael Eisele, who runs a Kesha fan account on Twitter and helped organize #FreeKesha protests. They claim Eisele “closely coordinated” with Kesha to spread “defamatory statements and tarnish Luke’s reputation.”

March 21: A judge rejects Kesha’s amended countersuit against Dr. Luke — in which she sought freedom from her record deal for a third time — claiming Kesha didn’t give appropriate notice to void her songwriting contract. For that reason, the judge says Kesha can’t get out of her contract under the argument that Luke “breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing” by allegedly abusing her. Kesha’s latest additions noted that Dr. Luke’s contract with Sony was coming to an end, which would put the fate of her new music in jeopardy, but the judge dismisses that claim as “too speculative.” The judge appears to imply that Kesha should’ve known that signing with Luke put her at risk: “With respect to the Prescription Agreement, signed in November 2008, Gottwald’s allegedly abusive behavior was foreseeable.” Another blow: The judge also shoots down Kesha’s attempt to use a California labor law to argue that her contract should’ve been terminated after seven years, because the suits are being battled in New York court.

April 25: Dr. Luke exits as CEO of Kemosabe Records at Sony after six years. He claims to still maintain a “relationship” with Sony, though the details are unknown.

June 23: Dr. Luke’s Tennessee defamation lawsuit against Kesha’s mother, originally filed in 2014, is dismissed. In a joint statement, Sebert says she “admits she has no firsthand personal knowledge of the events occurring on the night of the alleged rape.”

July 6: Kesha releases her first solo song since the lawsuit, “Praying,” on Kemosabe Records. She also announces her third album Rainbow will finally be released this summer.

July 30: Dr. Luke subpoenas Lady Gaga in his defamation case over the alleged texts Kesha sent her accusing him of raping another artist. According to Luke’s team, the texts Gaga provided were “so heavily redacted it was incomprehensible.” Gaga hits back, saying in a statement that “Dr. Luke’s team is attempting to manipulate the truth and draw press attention to their case by exaggerating Lady Gaga‘s role and falsely accusing her of dodging reasonable requests.”

August 8: Vulture reports that Dr. Luke will likely stand to profit from Kesha’s new album. The New York Times adds that Luke will “pursue the equivalent producer royalties in court” from the album, rather than have Kesha uphold the clause in her contract that states Luke must produce at least six songs on any album she releases.

August 11: Kesha’s third album, Rainbow, and first since her legal showdown with Dr. Luke began, three years ago, is released, on Kemosabe/RCA. Dr. Luke’s defamation lawsuits against Kesha and Geragos, Kesha’s countersuit, and part of Kesha’s injunction appeal are still ongoing.

August 15: Lady Gaga agrees to testify in Luke’s defamation case and provide unredacted copies of the texts Kesha sent her. The deposition will happen in September.

Dr. Luke claims Kesha’s own staffers fat-shamed her

Dr. Luke has fired back at singer Kesha in new legal papers, claiming that he’s the one who actually tried to prop her up emotionally while her own staffers fat-shamed her.

Kesha had submitted copies of emails in Manhattan Supreme Court last week in which the music producer criticized her weight.

The singer is trying to break an exclusive recording contract with Dr. Luke, claiming abuse, including even rape.

Dr. Luke has countered that the allegations are false and defamatory.

The high-profile producer, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, submitted a Jan. 29, 2010, email in which he assured Kesha after a performance, “I know you said you looked like a lesbo, but I disagree – you looked radiant and beautiful.”

Dr. Luke also included an email between Kesha’s staff — obtained by him through discovery in their case — in which her manager, Monica Cornia, suggests to assistant Tessa Schonder that they “put up pictures of models” to dissuade the singer from eating junk food.

Five years later, another email cites Schonder saying they must “get her working out again, sticking to a meal plan” and should discuss whether she should return to rehab for a “Tune-up.”

In yet another email from July 7, 2016, a second manager named Nicki Loranger said it’s not worth putting up with the fading star’s “complete insanity” because she’s no longer “a big money earner.”

A rep for Kesha declined to comment.

Kesha body then and now

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