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Why musicians are tweeting to #FreeKesha

Kesha performs at the Ninth Annual Delete Blood Cancer Gala on April 16, 2015, in New York City.
Kesha performs at the Ninth Annual Delete Blood Cancer Gala on April 16, 2015, in New York City.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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.

Comedian Margaret Cho posted an Instagram post of Fiona Apple delivering a solemn message of solidarity:

Fiona Apple wants to #FreeKesha

A photo posted by Margaret Cho (@margaret_cho) on

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:

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:

Which linked to Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast's blunter reaction:

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.

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