Anyone who listened to the radio between 2010 and 2012 has most likely heard of singer-songwriter Kesha Sebert, who goes by the stage name Ke$ha, and anyone with current access to social media has most likely heard of the intense legal battle she is currently dealing with. Sebert signed with Sony Music Entertainment over a decade ago and has been making hits ever since. However, in 2014, Sebert faced a major career setback when she sued Sony producer Dr. Luke Gottwald for sexual, physical, and verbal abuse and filed for an injunction that would release her from her contract with Sony.
On Feb. 19, 2016, New York State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied the injunction and declared that Ke$ha must continue recording with Sony, even though her abuser is at the head of the company. “You’re asking for the court to decimate a contract, which was heavily negotiated and signed by two parties, in an industry where these kinds of contracts are typical,” Kornreich said while denying Sebert’s request for the injunction. While the abuse charges are still pending, the dismissal of the injunction has been a hard-hitting defeat for the singer; images of her sobbing in the courtroom upon hearing the verdict went viral on the Internet. However, these heartbreaking images hit a nerve in the public. Between Twitter trends and protests, the public is spreading awareness for this cause in an attempt to provide emotional support for the singer. Millions of people have taken their support online, including dozens of celebrities.
The public support began rising on the day of the verdict when protesters gathered outside the courthouse and chanted “Free Ke$ha!” After Sebert was denied her freedom, the movement went viral. The hashtag “Free Ke$ha” trended for days on Twitter and was used by several celebrities to express their outrage over the court’s ruling, including Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Lorde, Kelly Clarkson, Fiona Apple, Troye Sivan, Alessia Cara, and Halsey. Additionally, Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to provide financial support to Sebert, and Adele dedicated her Brit Award to her on live television.
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay also spoke out about the issue. Hargitay’s show specializes in sexual assault cases, so Sebert’s case touches on a matter close to the actress. “For many survivors, speaking out is the hardest part,” Hargitay tweeted on Feb. 22. “It is also only the first step. Sending you strength @KeshaRose as you move through this.”
On Feb. 24, Sebert released an emotional statement on Facebook opening up about the matter and encouraging fellow victims of abuse to speak up. “All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused. 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,” Sebert said in her heartfelt message. “I just want to say that if you have been abused, please don’t be afraid to speak out. There are places that will make you feel safe. There are people who will help you. I for one, will stand beside you and behind you. I know now how this all feels and will forever fight for you the way perfect strangers have been fighting for me. Yes, I am very much a feminist, but more than that, I am a humanist. I believe in supporting my fellow human beings in being safe. We're all in this together. You are not alone. I love you and thank you.”