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Kesha’s Powerful “Praying” Performance at the Grammys

Kesha performed her song “Praying” alongside Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day, and Camilla Cabello at the Grammys last night and it was a powerful moment for Time’s Up in the music industry. Following reports of Kesha being legal battle with producer Dr. Luke whom she said assaulted and abused her, “Praying” was her artist’s first song in years—a power ballad about her own trauma and battle. The song was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance and the album Rainbow was up for Best Pop Vocal Album (we will most likely angrily recall for the fact that both lost to Ed Sheeren for the rest of time).

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Kesha’s performance was introduced by Janelle Monáe who spoke in support of women and the Time’s Up movement. Her speech, in full, called for the industry to support women:

“Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist but a young woman with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry. Artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers, and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and human beings. We come in peace, but we mean business.

And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up. We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind, and time’s up for the abuse of power. Because, you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington—it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shake culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry, committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay and access for all women.”

While Kesha’s performance was nothing short of incredible, it was hard not to think about how Time’s Up had come after her difficult fight: the singer had to fight tooth and nail, inch by inch to be able to make music again. She was trapped in a contract with her alleged abuser, Dr. Luke, who was backed by Sony Music and continued to work with famous artists during the case. She sued him in 2014, and Dr. Luke wasn’t removed as CEO of Kemosabe Records until 2017—in that time Kesha was subjected to constant victim-blaming. Many women in the industry did come out in support of Kesha and donated money to her legal fund, but we shouldn’t let white roses of the Grammys cover the fact that Me Too and Time’s Up came too late for Kesha and too many other survivors. Without diminishing the bravery of the current movement, we recognize in Kesha’s performance not only her strength, but the industry’s injustice to her.

(via Variety, image: “Praying” screengrab/Kesha/RCA Records)

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