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Kesha's Grammy Performance Was the Defining #MeToo Moment of the Night

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Kesha did not win a Grammy Sunday night for her anthem “Praying,” but her performance of the song — supported by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha, Andra Day and the Resistance Revival Chorus —  was a climactic moment for the artist, abuse survivors and women everywhere.

The moment began with a powerful introduction from singer and actress Janelle Monae. “We come in peace,” Monae said of the #TimesUp movement working to end sexual abuse in the workplace. “But we mean business.”

In the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Kesha gave an emotionally raw performance that sent her audience in Madison Square Garden, as well as folks watching at home, into tears.

“‘Praying’ was written about that moment when the sun starts peeking through the darkest storm clouds, creating the most beautiful rainbow,” Kesha wrote on Lenny in July. The song was her first release in four years after a lengthy legal battle with Dr. Luke, her former producer and the former head of Kemosabe Records, the record label she is currently signed to.

“There were so many days, months even, when I didn’t want to get out of bed,” Kesha said, describing her depression symptoms. “I spent all day wanting to go to sleep, and then when I did fall asleep, I had horrible night terrors where I would physically cry and scream through the dark. I was never at peace, night or day.”

The singer also described how she came to realize she needed help:

I know that I was never abandoned by my fans, my animals, or my family, but when you are depressed — really, truly depressed — you feel like you have nothing. Even having my kitties sleeping next to me in my darkest of hours couldn’t bring me light. It is in these moments when even the most cynical among us are forced to turn to something other than ourselves — we turn to prayer, or something like it. You look past your shame, past your desire to hide, and admit you need help.

Kesha has long been open about her experience living with mental illness. In May, the pop star shared an essay with Teen Vogue about how social media has affected her mental health.

“It became a vicious cycle,” she wrote of reading hurtful comments posted online. “When I compared myself to others, I would read more mean comments, which only fed my anxiety and depression.”

“I hope this song reaches people who are in the midst of struggles,” the singer shared in a message to fans. “To let them know that no matter how bad it seems now, you can get through it.”

At Sunday’s Grammys, many celebrities held or wore a white rose to show support of the Times Up movement, an extension of #MeToo and an effort to end sexual violence, assault and abuse in the workplace.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Originally published: January 29, 2018
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