“Kesha is already ‘free’ to record and release music without working with Dr. Luke as a producer if she doesn’t want to. Any claim that she isn’t ‘free’ is a myth.”
That was the statement put out this past February by Christine Lepera, the lawyer for the music producer Lukasz Gottwald, a.k.a. Dr. Luke. Kesha had sued to be released from her contract with Gottwald’s company Kemosabe Records because, Kesha alleged, Gottwald abused and raped her over the course of a decade. Gottwald’s side maintained his innocence—he was charged with no crime—and insisted that Kesha didn’t need a new contract in any case: The company had reportedly told her that she could, going forward, record music without Luke’s direct involvement.
The New York judge Shirley Werner Kornreich said that the assurance of a Luke-less recording future under Kesha’s current contract “decimates” her request for financial emancipation, and later threw the suit out.
Recent news has made clearer what kind of independence has been at stake for Kesha all along. Last week, TMZ reported that the pop star was planning on using her performance slot at Sunday’s Billboard music awards to make some sort of statement about her struggle with Gottwald. On Tuesday, Dick Clark Productions, which puts on the awards, told Billboard that Gottwald’s label then decided to bar Kesha from taking the stage:
Kesha accepted an invitation to perform on the show and she received written approval from Dr. Luke’s record label, Kemosabe Records. Kemosabe subsequently rescinded its approval following a media report on Wednesday May 11 regarding Kesha’s appearance on the BBMAs. Unfortunately, Kesha and Kemosabe have since been unable to come to an agreement for Kesha to perform on the show.
Kesha soon after confirmed on Instagram that her performance had been cancelled, but said that she was only ever planning on paying tribute to Bob Dylan with a cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe.” “ I was never going to use a picture of [Luke], speak of him or allude to my legal situation in any way,” she wrote. Gottwald, Kemosabe, and Sony Music have yet to comment on the situation.