In October 2014, pop star Kesha sued her producer Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald for "sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, unfair business practices, and infliction of emotional distress."
The ensuing 16 months of legal battles included a countersuit from Dr. Luke for breach of contract, an indefinite delay for any new music from Kesha, and a growing fan campaign that's pleading with her record label Sony to "#FreeKesha" from her contract with Dr. Luke. The contract states that she's supposed to make no fewer than six new albums under Dr. Luke's purview.
On February 19, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich rejected Kesha's request for a preliminary injunction to get out of her contract, meaning she will have to keep working with — or at least alongside — Dr. Luke at Sony. According to BuzzFeed's Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, Kornreich stated that "there has been no showing of irreparable harm. [Kesha]'s being given opportunity to record."
The case itself is complicated, especially due to Kesha's corporate obligations dating back to when Dr. Luke signed her when she was 18. Dr. Luke also has deep ties within Sony, and he's made monster hits with pop stars such as Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, and Miley Cyrus.
But within hours of the February 19 ruling, members of the music community were pledging their support for Kesha.
There are people all over the world who love you @KeshaRose. And I can say truly I am in awe of your bravery.— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) February 19, 2016
My thoughts are with @KeshaRose today. I'm sorry you've had to endure this experience.— lily (@lilyallen) February 19, 2016
standing with @KeshaRose through this traumatic, deeply unfair time. send good vibes her way everyone— Lorde (@lorde) February 19, 2016
My heart is with @KeshaRose.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) February 19, 2016
FREE KESHA— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) February 19, 2016
Disgusted by anyone in power positions abusing their authority. My heart breaks for Kesha and all people affected by this toxicity. Fuck.— HALSEY (@halsey) February 19, 2016
We love you and support you @kesharose you are the strongest, most brave friend we have and we stand by you forever. #freekesha— HAIM (@HAIMtheband) February 22, 2016
Comedian Margaret Cho posted an Instagram post of Fiona Apple delivering a solemn message of solidarity:
Tellingly, Miley Cyrus — who worked with Dr. Luke on "Wrecking Ball" — reposted Apple's message on her own Instagram page, to her 37.5 million followers.
Meanwhile, Demi Lovato tweeted several times to her 34 million followers about Kesha and the importance of using your voice to help women:
#FreeKesha this is only gonna make you stronger, you brave and beautiful girl. Prayers are with you @KeshaRose— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 20, 2016
Frustrating to see women come forward with their past only to be shot down, not believed & disrespected for their bravery in taking action— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
Someone tell me why anyone would ever feel brave enough to come forward if they are most likely to be ignored or called a liar?— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
I'm also ready for self-proclaimed feminists to start speaking out or taking action for women's rights.— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
Women empowerment is speaking up for other women even when it's something uncomfortable to speak up about.— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) February 21, 2016
Those latter tweets about wanting "self-proclaimed feminists to start speaking out" got many thinking she was calling out Taylor Swift, a prominent Sony-affiliated artist whose Grammy acceptance speech for Album of the Year called for women to shake off toxic people who try to undermine their success.
While Swift herself hasn't yet said anything about the case (a fact Lovato seems to have noticed), New York Times pop critic Joe Coscarelli reported on Sunday February 21 that Swift will be donating $250,000 to Kesha "to help with any of her financial needs at this time."
The pièce de résistance came from Kelly Clarkson, whose 2004 smash hit "Since U Been Gone" was co-written by none other than Dr. Luke:
Trying 2 not say anything since I can't say anything nice about a person... so this is me not talking about Dr. Luke https://t.co/lLhtUHbmgG— Kelly Clarkson (@kelly_clarkson) February 19, 2016
Which linked to Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast's blunter reaction:
This is some legit bullshit #FreeKesha https://t.co/EDgIXYnoIp— Best Coast (@BestCoast) February 19, 2016
With so much at stake, it's significant that these prominent musicians are speaking out in support of Kesha over Sony. Keep an eye on this case; it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Update: Added reactions from HAIM, Lovato, Apple, Cyrus, and Swift.