Kesha

  • Pop singer, songwriter and rapper, born Kesha Sebert, in 1987, from Los Angeles California.
  • Kesha’s mother is songwriter Pebe Sebert – Pebe was the co-writer of the country song Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle To You, which Dolly Parton took to #1 in 1980 (and Kesha later covered in 2012). Pebe was a single mother on welfare – she often brought Kesha onstage while performing when Kesha was an infant to avoid paying a babysitter. The family moved to Nashville in 1991 when Pebe signed a publishing contract for her songwriting. Kesha would go to recording studios with her mother, and she discovered she had vocal talent. In high school, she took songwriting classes, and she wrote music with her mother. She started making demo tapes. Music producer Dr. Luke heard a demo and convinced Kesha to move to Los Angeles, signing her to a recording contract in 2005.
  • For several years, Kesha worked with writers and producers and performed as a back-up singer on projects for other artists. She was not making much money, and she started stylizing her name as “Ke$ha”, inserting the dollar sign as an ironic gesture. In 2009, Dr. Luke was producing a song with rap artist Flo Rida, and Flo Rida wanted a female voice for the song. Ke$ha happened to be in the studio, and she performed the vocal in the song. The single Right Round went on to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, setting a record at the time for first week sales. However, Ke$ha was not credited initially for her vocals, and she did not get any money for her contribution.
  • Right Round increased her exposure in the industry, and Dr. Luke finally agreed to produce an album with her. Ke$ha had been writing music for her debut album for 6 years, so she had 200 songs to choose from for the album. Fourteen songs made the cut – the electropop Animal was released in January 2010, and it was an immediate success. The first single, Tik Tok, was released in August 2009, initially for free on social media. By the end of the year, it broke the record at the time for the most digital downloads in a week, and the song reached #1 on the Hot 100. The song was the #1 song for the entire year, and as of 2019, it has sold over 25 million digital copies, making it one of the best selling singles in digital history.
  • Three other singles from Animal – Blah Blah Blah, Your Love Is My Drug and Take It Off – were top 10 hits. The album topped the Billboard album chart and was certified 3x platinum. Later in 2010, she released an EP called Cannibal. The lead single from the EP was We R Who We R – it became her second #1 single, debuting at that spot (only the 17th song ever to debut at #1). A second single, Blow, peaked at #7.
  • Ke$ha’s next album, Warrior, was released in 2012. Warrior’s major hit was Die Young, which peaked at #2 on the Hot 100. Several weeks after the release of the song, it was pulled from some radio stations because of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Two other singles from Warrior reached the top 40, but were not nearly as popular as her earlier work. In 2013, she was the featured vocalist in Pitbull’s mega-hit, Timber, which peaked at #1. She also had her own TV show on MTV – Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life. 
  • In 2014 and 2015, she lowered her profile due to personal and legal issues. She entered rehab to address a problem with an eating disorder, which she blamed in part on Dr. Luke. She also sued Dr. Luke for sexual assault and battery and several other accusations, attempting to get out of her contract with him. She checked out of rehab, changing her name back to Kesha – she removed the dollar sign from her name, saying the the $ was part of the facade of the old Kesha. Meanwhile, her legal action against Dr. Luke was dismissed by the courts.
  • While Kesha was forced to continue to work with Dr. Luke’s label, Dr. Luke was removed as CEO, so he was not part of her next album. Rainbow was released in 2017, and it was a complete departure from the electropop sound of her previous work. Sympathetic to her struggles, she was embraced by the music industry. The album was critically acclaimed and Kesha received 2 Grammy nominations for the record. Rolling Stone selected it as the fourth best album of the year. One of the Grammy nominations was for the single Praying, which peaked at #22 on the Hot 100.
  • It has been reported that she is working on a new album, perhaps to be released by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, Dr. Luke continues to be a headache – he has sued Kesha for defamation and breach of contract, seeking over $50 million.
  • Kesha is another artist that is transforming from a bad-girl, hard partying image to an image of maturation and thoughtfulness. She’s been through a lot of angst, and she certainly has a survivor sense to her music now. Here’s a video from the new Kesha – listen to her amazing vocals in Praying.

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