Kesha Rose Sebert (born March 1, 1987), known mononymously as Kesha (formerly stylized as Ke$ha), is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, and actress. In 2005, at age 18, Kesha was signed to producer Dr. Luke's record label, Kemosabe Entertainment, and publishing company. Although an active musician since then, singing background vocals and writing songs for other artists, her breakthrough came in early 2009 after appearing on rapper Flo Rida's number-one single, "Right Round", although she was uncredited. Her debut single, "TiK ToK", topped the charts for many weeks, broke many records, and became the biggest song in 2010. Her debut album, Animal and her first extended play, Cannibal, were both released in 2010. Kesha's music and image propelled her to immediate commercial success. Warrior, her second studio album, was released in December 2012. Lip$ha, a collaborative album with The Flaming Lips was originally set to be released sometime in 2014 or 2015 due to legal issues with Dr. Luke, however it is unknown whether it will still be released or not. Her third studio album, Rainbow, was released on August 11, 2017. The album got her first Grammy nomination, as well as her second no. 1 album. Her fourth studio album, High Road was released on January 31, 2020.
Life and career
Childhood and youth: 1987–2004
Kesha was born in Los Angeles, California on March 1, 1987. Her mother, Patricia Rose "Pebe" Sebert, is a singer-songwriter who co-wrote the 1978 single "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You" with Hugh Moffatt for Joe Sun. Pebe, a single mother, struggled financially while supporting herself and her three children, Kesha, Lagan, and Louie. They relied on welfare payments and food stamps to get by. When Kesha was an infant, Pebe would often have to look after her onstage while performing. Kesha says she has no knowledge of her father's identity. However, a man named Bob Chamberlain who called himself her father approached Star Magazine in 2011 with pictures and letters, claiming them as proof that they had been in regular contact as father and daughter before she turned 19. Her mother is of half German and half Hungarian descent (with her Hungarian side from Szentes).
Kesha's family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1991 after securing a new publishing deal for her songwriting. Pebe frequently brought Kesha and her brothers along to recording studios and encouraged Kesha to sing when she noticed Kesha's vocal talent. Kesha claimed that she did not fit in at school in the Brentwood suburb of Nashville, which she has called the "Bible Belt", explaining that her unconventional dress sense including homemade purple velvet pants and purple hair did not endear her to other students. She played the trumpet and later the saxophone in the marching band in school, and described herself in an interview as being "very studious" in high school; she would often drive to Belmont University to listen in on Cold War history classes after school and achieved "near perfect" SAT scores. Kesha attended Franklin High School and Brentwood High School.
In addition to taking songwriting classes, Kesha was also taught how to write songs by Pebe, and they would often write together when she returned home from school. Kesha began recording demos which Pebe would give to people she knew. Kesha was also in a band with Lagan. Kesha and Pebe co-wrote the song "Stephen" together when Kesha was 16. Kesha then tracked down David Gamson, a producer that she admired, from Scritti Politti who agreed to produce the song. She dropped out of school at 17, after being convinced by Dr. Luke and Max Martin to return to Los Angeles to pursue a music career, and earned her GED after. Around this time, Pebe answered an ad by reality series, The Simple Life, looking for an "eccentric" family to host Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. The episode aired in 2005.
Luke and Martin had received one of Kesha's demos from Samantha Cox, senior director of writer/publisher relations at Broadcast Music Incorporated, and were impressed. Two of the demos were described in a cover story for Billboard, the first "a gorgeously sung, self-penned country ballad" and the second "a gobsmackingly awful trip-hop track" where Kesha raps ad lib for a minute when she runs out of lyrics near the end. Luke stated in an interview for the story that it was the latter track that caught his attention, saying "when you're listening to 100 CDs, that kind of bravado and chutzpah stand out."
Career beginnings: 2005–2009
In 2005, at the age of 18, Kesha was signed to Dr. Luke's label, Kemosabe Entertainment, and his music publishing company, Prescription Songs. Kesha later sang background vocals for Paris Hilton's single, "Nothing in This World". Dr. Luke became preoccupied with other incoming projects, having enjoyed success writing and producing for pop star Kelly Clarkson's album, Breakaway. Kesha then signed with David Sonenberg's management company, DAS Communications Inc., in 2006, hardly interacting with Dr. Luke after that. DAS was tasked with obtaining a major label record deal for Kesha in a year’s time in exchange for 20 percent of her music income, with her having the option of ending the relationship if they failed. She worked with several writers and producers while at the company and ended up co-writing Australian pop group The Veronicas' single, "This Love" with producer Toby Gad. While furthering her career in studio, Kesha earned her living as a waitress. She adopted the dollar sign in her name while struggling to get by as an ironic gesture.
Kesha appeared in the video for her friend, Katy Perry's single "I Kissed a Girl", and sang background vocals for the Dr. Luke-produced song, "Lace and Leather" by Britney Spears in 2008 DAS soon attracted the attention of songwriter and A&R Kara DioGuardi, who wanted to sign Kesha to Warner Bros. Records. The deal fell through due to her existing contract with Dr. Luke's label. In September, she terminated her contract with DAS, reuniting with Dr. Luke. Kesha gained exposure in the mainstream media in early 2009 after appearing on rapper Flo Rida's number one single, "Right Round".The collaboration happened by accident; she had walked into a recording session for the song with Flo Rida and Dr. Luke. Flo Rida wanted a female voice for the song; Dr. Luke then suggested Kesha for the part. Flo Rida liked the end result so much that they did two more tracks, "Touch Me" being one of them and the other remains unnamed. However, she is not credited for her feature on the United States release of "Right Round" and did not collect any money for the part. She also refused to appear in the video, explaining to men's magazine Esquire that she wanted to make a name for herself on her own terms.
Animal and Cannibal: 2010–2011
Kesha performed at The Echo in 2009. Soon after, it was announced that Kesha had signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records through Luke's imprint, after being sought after by many major labels, and was working on her debut album. She made her official stage debut at that year's Lollapalooza as part of the BMI Stage, with Time Out Chicago saying that the set "left the audience wanting more," comparing it to crack cocaine. Her debut single, "TiK ToK", had been released digitally in the US in early August, and was sent to radio two months later in October. Her label noticed her strong following on social media when negotiating her contract and relied on viral marketing to build a following for the song, offering the song as a free stream on MySpace as early as July. Kesha had co-wrote the title song for Miley Cyrus' The Time of Our Lives EP, made appearances on Pitbull's album and the cover of Women's Wear Daily. In September 2009, the former lead singer of punk band The Actual, Max Bernstein, was hired as her bassist. She supported Calvin Harris on tour in the UK and toured with Mickey Avalon in the US.
A number one placing in New Zealand for "TiK ToK" gave Kesha her first number one; this was followed by number one positions ten other countries. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first number one of the decade. For its second week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, "TiK ToK" set the weekly record for the most digital downloads of a female artist and became the second best-selling single in a week, after "Right Round", by shifting 610,000 copies. At its fifth week at the top, it broke the record for the highest weekly total Top 40 Mainstream airplay record. Spending nine weeks at number one, the song became the longest running number one debut single by a female artist since Debby Boone's 1977 single "You Light Up My Life". "TiK ToK" was featured in the opening sequence for The Simpsons episode "To Surveil With Love" where the entire cast lip-synced to the song, making it the first time that the series has forgone its traditional opening theme for another song since its creation. Kesha's debut album, Animal, was released on January 5, 2010 in the US to mixed reviews from music critics. Rolling Stone called the album "repulsive, obnoxious and ridiculously catchy." The album debuted at number one in the US, selling 152,000 copies with 76% of sales coming from digital outlets, the largest weekly digital percentage share for an album at number one. By March, the album had sold a million copies worldwide with half of the sales coming from digital downloads. Second single, "Blah Blah Blah" managed to debut on the charts in the US, Canada and Ireland before being announced as the next single due to strong digital sales following the release of the album. She presented with Justin Bieber at the 52nd Grammy Awards and performed on American Idol on March 17, 2010. Kesha made her debut Saturday Night Live appearance as the musical guest on April 17, 2010.
Kesha's musical credits in 2010 include a co-write for Miranda Cosgrove's debut album as well as features on singles by Taio Cruz and 3OH!3 and Mickey Avalon's record. She was the opening act on the North American leg of Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth tour and was one of the acts performing for the revival of Lilith Fair. In May, her former managers from DAS filed a lawsuit seeking $14 million in damages from Ke$ha and $12 million from Dr. Luke for commissions on her RCA record deal, alleging that she squeezed them out of her career under pressure from Luke. Kesha's lawyer, Charles Ortner, said she was entitled to end her relationship with the firm for failing to "get [her] a major-label record deal in a year" and that they had nothing to do in her eventual signing with RCA.
Following the release of Animal, Kesha released her first extended play, Cannibal, which was originally intended to be a deluxe edition of Animal. It was then released as both a standalone EP and a deluxe edition of Animal, titled Animal + Cannibal. The EP contained the singles "We R Who We R", which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it her second single to reach the top, and "Blow", which reached #7, continuing her streak of top 10 hits. Kesha also released two remix albums, I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance: The Remix Album and Animal + Cannibal - the Remix Album. In 2011, Kesha went on her first headlining tour, the Get $leazy Tour, to promote her album and EP. This tour began on February 15, 2011 and ended on September 29.
Warrior, other projects, and personal struggles: 2012–2015
On December 4, 2012, Kesha released her sophomore album Warrior, following the singles "Die Young", "C'Mon", and "Crazy Kids". She embarked on her Warrior Tour starting on July 3, 2013 and ending two years later on September 19, 2015.
In July 2013, The Flaming Lips announced that they hoped to release a full-length collaborative album with Kesha, called Lip$ha, although it was eventually cancelled in the winter of the same year. Kesha sent a message to a fan expressing how it was out of her control and that she wanted to release the material, even for free, saying that she did not care about the money. On October 7, 2013, Kesha and Pitbull released a collaboration, "Timber", produced by Luke, which was an international commercial success and became Kesha's third number-one and her eleventh top 10 single on the Hot 100 chart.
In 2014, Kesha had admitted herself into rehab for bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder, and began to work on her third studio album. After checking out of rehab in April, she dropped the "$" from her name, opting to use her birth name instead. While in rehab, Kesha recorded 14 new songs. In June 2014, Kesha became an expert on the short lived singing competition, Rising Star, along with Brad Paisley and Ludacris. In October 2014, Kesha sued producer Dr. Luke for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices which had occurred over 10 years working together.
On November 2, 2014, a new song titled "Lover", was uploaded to Schpilkas' SoundCloud, who produced the track alongside Spookey Ruben. The track was later included on Ruben's album Welsh Rarebits. In December 2015, Kesha revealed that she had formed a country music and classic rock-influenced band called Yeast Infection and performed a live show with the band in Nashville on December 23.
Fuck the World Tour and Rainbow: 2016–2018
On February 19, 2016, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha's request for a preliminary injunction to release her from Kemosabe Records. This sparked the #FreeKesha movement on social media and garnering support from fellow musicians such as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Melanie Martinez, Lorde, Troye Sivan, Taylor Swift, who donated $250,000 for legal fees, Sam Smith, Halsey, and more. On April 6, 2016, Kornreich dismissed the case, saying that even if the allegations of sexual assault are accepted as true, the five-year statute of limitations had run out on the two most specific rape allegations, one occurring in 2005 and the other in 2008.
Kesha appeared during Zedd's slot at the 2016 Coachella Music Festival, performing "True Colors". A studio version was released as a single on April 29, 2016. Kesha was scheduled to perform at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, but was prevented from doing so due to Dr. Luke. She was later allowed to perform as long as she didn't mention anything about the lawsuit. She sung Bob Dylan's song "It Ain't Me Babe".
In 2016, Kesha started the Fuck the World Tour with her band, the Creepies. The tour was seen as an act of defiance against Dr. Luke, since this took place after the court denied her request to be freed from Kemosabe Records. The band took her old songs and remade them into rock and country versions as well as performing some songs by Kesha's favorite artists. This tour lasted nearly an entire year, from July 23, 2016 to July 22, 2017. During this time, it was revealed that Kesha had recorded 22 songs on her own and had given them to her label. It was later announced that Kesha is in the process of recording a third studio album. Kesha also received the Visibility Award for the Human Rights Campaign, an award that recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who use their incredible talent and visibility to help better the lives of LGBT people.
On July 5, 2017 Kesha announced via her Instagram account that she was releasing a single, titled "Praying", the following day, which would later be nominated for a Grammy, along with her album Rainbow, marking this as her first two Grammy nominations. The album on August 11, 2017. She also thanked her fans for their support in getting her through the hardest time in her life.
Other singles from Rainbow include "Learn to Let Go" and "Woman". "Hymn" was released shortly before the album as a promotional single. On September 26, 2017, Kesha began her Rainbow Tour, which ended on October 11, 2018.
Macklemore and Kesha released a song entitled "Good Old Days" together on October 9, 2017. From June 6, 2018 to August 5, 2018, the two went on a tour together called The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore. This tour promoted Kesha's album Rainbow and Macklemore's album Gemini. Several behind the scenes videos were uploaded during the tour.
Her documentary film, Rainbow The Film was released on Apple Music on August 10, 2018, following her stint at rehab for her eating disorder, creating Rainbow. In the same month, she would collaborate with rock band The Struts for the remix of the band's "Body Talks" for their album of the same name. A new song titled "Here Comes The Change" was released on September 19, 2018 for the Motion Picture, On the Basis of Sex. Kesha co-wrote and featured in the song "Safe", the debut single by her younger brother, Louie Sebert, going by the name "Sage". It was released in partnership with the March For Our Lives organization.
High Road: 2019–present
Kesha went on a cruise tour called Kesha's Weird & Wonderful Rainbow Ride. The cruise started on February 17, 2019 and ended on February 21, 2019, and Kesha will be accompanied by Betty Who, Superfruit, Jonathan Van Ness, Big Freedia, Wrabel, Bob the Drag Queen, Detox, and Thorgy Thor. The cruise began in Tampa, Florida and ended in Nassau, Bahamas. On July 31, 2019, a second cruise was announced which is set to sail on October 16 through October 20, 2020.
The singer received the Voice for the Animals award at the Humane Society of the United States' 2019 To The Rescue! Los Angeles Gala which were held on May 4, 2019.
Production for her fourth studio album began back in June of 2018. She has worked with Wrabel, producer Stint, and The Struts for the new album. A buzz single was uploaded to Kesha's official YouTube channel on June 2, 2019, titled, "Rich, White, Straight Men". On June 7th, it was serviced as an official single and was uploaded to streaming services.
Her fourth studio album, High Road, was originally set to be released January 10, 2020 but officially released January 31, 2020. The lead single, "Raising Hell" was released October 24, 2019 and features Big Freedia. Kesha officially announced her own cosmetics line, Kesha Rose Beauty, which was be released December 6, 2019.
On January 7, 2020, Kesha officially announced the High Road Tour to promote the album which was to begin on April 23, 2020, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image and artistry
Kesha has been noted for her party girl image and behavior, while both her and her music have been dismissed early on as lightweight, calculating and crude. She insisted otherwise in an interview, "I have been working on realizing this dream, my path, my mission, for years. I’ve really invested a lot of thought, time and effort into it. The last thing that makes me is a victim in the cauldron of celebrity culture. I think it’s a bummer when people don’t represent that properly, when they portray me as purely one-dimensional."
Kesha's early styling comprised of messy hair, smudged makeup and a wardrobe she describes as "garbage-chic". The look developed from her being poor and trying to brand herself as best she could on a budget. She has named Keith Richards as her fashion inspiration. The Guardian called her "the degenerate Hannah Montana" and stated that "her whole shtick appears to be predicated on the idea that she's a rebel in American Apparel." Her stage makeup is characterized by dramatic makeup at her right eye, inspired by A Clockwork Orange, and body glitter. Kesha came in at number fifty-six on Maxim's 2010 Hot 100 list of the "world’s most beautiful women".
Kesha primarily considers herself as a songwriter first and has wrote or co-wrote almost every song on all of her records. Her voice is described as a "strong, sneering vibrato", along with a distinct yodel-like quality to her voice. Her yodeling can be heard in "TiK ToK" and "Cannibal". Kesha also uses a trademark talky "white-girl" rapping style with exaggerated discordant phrasing and enunciation. Her vocal technique has led her to be credited as a rapper, a topic she disagreed with until fellow rappers André 3000, Wiz Khalifa, and Snoop Dogg endorsed her.
|“||The first time someone called me a rapper, I started laughing. I was shocked, and thought it was hilarious. It's crazy and funny to me.||”|
The New York Times said Kesha "threatens to become the most influential female rapper of the day, or at least the most popular. Pretending Kesha isn't a rapper is no longer feasible." "Sleazy", "Crazy Kids" and "C'Mon" further displayed Kesha's rapping abilities.
Having previously done country, pop rock, and electro, she had a clear idea of the synth-pop sound that she wanted for her debut album. The genre was popular at the time, with many of her peers releasing similar output as well. "Party at a Rich Dude's House" and "C U Next Tuesday" have 1980s derived backing, while "Stephen" begins with "Kansas-style vocal harmonies". Animal included heavy processed vocals with auto-tune, which lead questions on Kesha's vocal talents. The singer has expressed confidence in her abilities and showed some vocal talent on ballads such as "Animal" and "Hungover".
Warrior used considerably less autotune, although it still showed in a number of songs. The album's piano and guitar-driven ballads such as "Love into the Light", "Wonderland" and "Past Lives" display Kesha's vocal ability. Much more experimental than Animal, Warrior contains dubstep elements and explores erotic experiences Kesha encountered with ghosts on the song "Supernatural". Overall, Kesha said the theme of Warrior is magic. The album was largely influenced by rock music, despite being rooted in technopop. Rock icons The Flaming Lips, Iggy Pop, and Alice Cooper have collaborated with Kesha, endorsing her as a rock singer.
Rainbow displayed a significant departure from the electropop sound from Kesha's previous two albums. The album contained elements of glam-rock, country-pop, and pop-rock. Its lyrical themes range from letting go of the past, finding forgiveness within oneself for past mistakes, self-worth, and female empowerment.
Most of her lyrics chronicle her relationships and partying; the lighthearted subject matter of the latter and her unfiltered language saw many critics criticizing her for releasing frivolous and crass music. In "Blah Blah Blah" and "Boots & Boys", she objectifies men to poke fun at how male fronted rock bands and rappers can get away with objectifying women and not vice versa.
Kesha is 5'9" with blonde hair, that is naturally brunette, and pale skin with freckles. She wears a nose ring on the left side of her nose and has greyish-blue eyes. She had a gold tooth that was removed in 2015, but was reinstalled in 2019. She has over 30 tattoos. In June of 2019, her signature blonde hair was dyed dark brown with bangs. Speaking about the sudden change, Kesha explains:
|“||I wanted to try something I was scared of. For whatever reason, my femininity has always been wrapped up in having blonde hair. It's an old tape I've been playing myself for far too long, so I went dark.||”|
She has worn many wigs and weaves throughout her career, as well as dying her hair every color of the rainbow, except for red and orange.
The discography of Kesha consists of:
- I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance: The Remix Album (2011)
- Animal + Cannibal - the Remix Album (2011)
- Animal + Cannibal (2010)
- "True Colors" (2016)
- "This Is Me" (2017) (released on The Greatest Showman: Reimagined)
- "Here Comes The Change" (2019)
- "Rich, White, Straight Men" (2019)
- She is part Hungarian.
- She is vegetarian.
- She is a feminist.
- Her favorite color is chartreuse.
- She is an ordained minister and has performed legal commitment ceremonies for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
- She spoke about her sexual orientation with Seventeen magazine in 2013, "I don't love just men. I love people. It's not about gender".
- She made a similar statement to Out magazine in 2010, when she confessed to simply "liking people": "I wouldn't say I'm gay or straight. I don't like labeling things anyway".
- She has been involved with LGBT+ activism as well as animal rights.
- Kesha believes in God, writing for Lenny Letter that she believes that "God is nature and space and energy and the universe. My own interpretation of spirituality isn't important, because we all have our own. What matters is that I have something greater than me as an individual that helps bring me peace"
- She reportedly has an IQ of 140 and scored a near perfect on her SATs, scoring a 1500
- Her gold tooth, which she wore from 2010-2015, was installed after she chipped her actual tooth during some bar "rowdiness". Kesha joked E! News in 2013, "Someone was being mean to one of my dancers and I couldn't take it, so then part of my tooth came out and then the gold went on". In reality, she actually chipped it opening a beer bottle with her teeth.
- She used beer as an adhesive when she first started wearing body glitter, but stopped because it was giving her a skin rash. She later started using baby oil.
- Her favorite author is Tom Robbins.
- She didn't like "TiK ToK" at first and wanted to rewrite the verses. "I didn't think it was funny or clever," she explained to the Herald Sun in 2010. "I thought it kind of sucked. But everyone else liked it".
- She broke into Prince's house to leave him her demo CD.
- She drove a gold trans am, until it broke down in 2013 (shown on her TV show).
- She wrote the song, "Stephen" when she was 16 with her mother.
- She doesn't like milk.
- Sometimes when she writes songs, she lays her breast on her piano.
- She tore her ACL in 2018 after she fell onstage during a concert for the Rainbow Tour.
- Some of her biggest music idols include Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Iggy Pop, and The Rolling Stones.
- She would like to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar or Cardi B.
- Artists that make her happy are Cardi B, Lizzo, and Ariana Grande.
- She carries edibles in her purse and smokes weed regularly.
|"Click, click, snap!" To view the Kesha gallery, click here.|
- ↑ Rich, White, Straight Men
- ↑ https://www.billboard.com/top-artists-2010s
- ↑ https://www.lennyletter.com/story/kesha-fights-back-in-her-new-single-praying
- ↑ https://medium.com/dailyskew/factcheck-what-is-keshas-iq-is-k-sha-a-mensa-genius-69a0fa003223
- ↑ https://www.vogue.com/article/kesha-body-image-makeup-glitter
- ↑ https://pagesix.com/2019/06/05/kesha-looks-unrecognizable-as-a-brunette/