A brash and driven pop singer/songwriter, Kesha (Kesha Rose Sebert) was born in Los Angeles but moved to Nashville when she was four, where her mother — a longtime songwriter — had inked a publishing deal. (Over a decade prior to that, Pebe Sebert’s biggest success had come with “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You,” originally recorded by Joe Sun and later by Dolly Parton.) Before finishing high school, Kesha returned to L.A. for the sake of jump-starting her own music career, despite being set up to study psychology at Columbia. She soon met Dr. Luke, the co-writer and co-producer of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” (among several other hits), who was impressed with her demo recordings. Kesha penned the Veronicas’ “This Love” and later contributed background vocals to Britney Spears’ “Lace and Leather,” both of which were released in 2008. The biggest turning point came one year later, when she was tapped to contribute vocals to Flo Rida’s Dr. Luke-produced “Right Round,” a number one Hot 100 hit.
Kesha subsequently signed to RCA, and her debut album, Animal — featuring collaborations with Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Benny Blanco — was released in early 2010. Animalproved to be a big hit, reaching the top of the Billboard 200 and spinning off the number one single “TiK ToK.” The nine-song EP Cannibal appeared at the end of the year. Its single, “We R Who We R,” became her second chart-topper, and “Blow” also reached the Top Ten. Cannibal was followed in 2011 by another stopgap release, I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance: The Remix Album. In 2012, she was called upon by rocker Wayne Coyne for The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends, a collaborative album that partnered Kesha with Biz Markie on the track “2012 (You Must Be Upgraded).” Dr. Luke was back on board for her second official album, Warrior, but the more rock-influenced effort also found space for Coyne, punk godfather Iggy Pop, and the indie pop band fun. Preceded by the Billboard Top Ten single “Die Young,” Warrior was released in December 2012 and reached the Top Ten of the albums chart. Two other singles hit the Top 40: “C’Mon” and “Crazy Kids.” Kesha toured North America during 2013 as part of a co-headlining bill with Pitbull, and the duo also recorded a single together, “Timber,” which became Kesha’s third number one hit. In late 2014, she sued Dr. Luke for an array of charges, including sexual assault, harassment, emotional abuse, and bad business practices; she also sought release from her contract with Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe label. Although the courts initially rejected her claims, wide public support for Kesha caused Kemosabe to release her from her contract in early 2016. Her return to performing happened in April 2016, when she took the stage at Coachella to perform “True Colors” during Zedd’s set. The studio version was released by the end of the month. Following her own world tour in the summer of that year, Kesha returned to the studio to complete work on her long-awaited third LP, Rainbow. “Praying,” the album’s lead single, was released in July 2017, with the album arriving a month later.