"Til It Happens To You," Lady Gaga's Oscar-nominated tune from the movie The Hunting Ground, is already a heartbreaking song, but a new cover of it makes it more emotional than ever. On Saturday, May 7, Kesha covered Gaga's "Til It Happens To You" at the Humane Society Gala, and the singer's performance was absolutely beautiful. When she sang the track, about abuse and survival, with the honoree of the evening and co-writer of the song, Diane Warren, accompanying her on piano, it's hard to imagine there was a dry eye in the house.
Before Kesha even began her performance, the singer gave a poignant dedication, saying, "I want to dedicate this song to every man, woman, child [and] animal that has ever been abused.” And as she sang, images of caged animals graced the screen behind her, making the already powerful song even stronger. It's great to see Kesha delivering such a heartfelt performance, especially of this song; "Til It Happens To You" has been used as an anthem for sexual assault survivors, and Kesha, as many know, has alleged that Lucasz Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke) caused her years of sexual and emotional abuse. (Kesha has sued Dr. Luke over the allegations, while he has repeatedly denied her claims and has launched a countersuit.)
It's also just great to see Kesha — who, due to a recording contract with Sony she's currently fighting in court, has released just one song, Zedd's "True Colors," in three years — performing again. It's especially nice to see that it's a song by Gaga, who has proven to be a supportive friend of Kesha throughout this difficult time. When news broke that Kesha was struggling to get out of her recording contract, Gaga sent the singer love through social media, and at the Academy Awards, she dedicated her version of "Til It Happens To You" to Kesha. It's wonderful that Kesha has the love, support, and friendship of Gaga, as well as so many other fans and celebs.
There hasn't been a version I've seen of "Til It Happens To You" that hasn't been heartbreaking. At the 2016 Academy Awards, Gaga performed the song as a huge group of sexual assault survivors dressed in white stood behind her in solidarity, holding hands. It was enormously emotional, and Kesha's cover of the song is equally heartbreaking. Her powerful performance rightfully earned her a standing ovation at the Gala, and the respect of so many fans at home.
On April 3, a spokesperson for Dr. Luke's released a statement to Rolling Stone that said,
The Court repeatedly stated Kesha is already free to record without Dr. Luke, and that she had not presented any facts supporting her claims. That's because all the evidence — including Kesha's own videotaped sworn testimony — show her allegations are false. The only thing Kesha is not free to do is to continue to lie about Dr. Luke through publicity stunts and outrageous smears, ignoring the fact that by her own free will she went to work and entered into new contracts with Dr. Luke years after this "incident" supposedly happened. Her goal all along has been solely personal enrichment by seeking to break contracts that brought her success and millions so she can enter into more lucrative ones. We look forward to our day in court holding Kesha accountable for her lies.
And in October 2014, Kesha's lawyer released a statement to Billboard about the filing of her lawsuit:
This lawsuit is a wholehearted effort by Kesha to regain control of her music career and her personal freedom after suffering for ten years as a victim of mental manipulation, emotional abuse and sexual assault at the hands of Dr. Luke. The facts presented in our lawsuit paint a picture of a man who is controlling and willing to commit horrible acts of abuse in an attempt to intimidate an impressionable, talented, young female artist into submission for his personal gain. Kesha is focused on moving her life and her career beyond this terrible time.
In February, an attorney for Sony told the New York Times:
Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever, but Sony is not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha. Sony is doing everything it can to support the artist in these circumstances, but is legally unable to terminate the contract to which it is not a party.