Kesha has released her first single in three years, “Praying”, after announcing it yesterday via Instagram. The singer has been locked in a lawsuit with former producer and collaborator Dr. Luke for three years; she sued him in 2014 for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices and was subsequently locked into an ugly battle with Sony to be released from her contract. Earlier this year, a judge refused to amend her original case, claiming that Dr Luke's alleged abusive behaviour was “foreseeable”. Kesha has not released a single in four years because she did not want to work with Dr Luke, despite the fact that she had “dozens if not hundreds of songs ready for release”, and Sony would not allow her to leave and release music elsewhere. However, Dr. Luke was dropped from Sony and Kemosabe records in April, so she is now relatively free.
“Praying”, the first single from upcoming album Rainbow, was released with an accompanying Lenny Letter. It is, naturally, a far cry from her 2009 club bangers, and appears to be a direct message to Dr. Luke: over a piano Kesha sings, “you told me I was nothing without you, and after everything you’ve done, I can thank you for how strong I have become” and, “you put me through hell” before building to an emotional chorus in which she hopes the subject is “somewhere praying” and their “soul is changing”. The song carries the added significance of telling the story of a woman who has found peace and come through the other side after being faced with the impossible choice of working with her abuser or never working again. After four long years, Kesha has her impressive voice back, and she's not scared to use it.
It’s a beautiful song and it’s not one of vengeance: it’s one of Kesha’s own strength, forgiveness, and an admirable spirit she’s carried throughout her entire legal hell and everything she’s been battling for the last ten years. In her Lenny Letter Kesha writes, “This song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you” and, “I've battled intense anxiety and depression, a relentless eating disorder, and all the other basic bullshit that comes with being human. I know I'm not alone in that battle. Finding the strength to come forward about these things is not easy, but I want to help others who are going through tough times”.
Both the song and the letter are examples of not only Kesha’s talent, but her incredible maturity, strength, and adoration for her fans through the worst possible times. It’s just a shame she had to go through them to get here.