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The most poignant Grammys performances transcend sheer technical prowess and tap into the most pressing sociopolitical issues of the moment. By that measure, Kesha’s powerful rendition of “Praying” will surely be remembered as one of the most powerful moments of the 2018 Grammys.
Kesha dedicated her performance to the #MeToo movement and to survivors of sexual assault. Flanked by a star-studded cast of backup singers including Camila Cabello, Andra Day, and Cyndi Lauper, the singer belted the song’s triumphant chorus even as she struggled to fight back tears. Host James Corden was visibly moved by the performance as well, saying afterward, “Music often resonates more than the spoken word ever could.”
“Praying” served as a moment of victory for Kesha, who has been involved in a years-long legal battle against her producer Dr. Luke, who she accused of drugging and raping her, as well as physically, verbally, and emotionally abusing her. The singer also alleged that Dr. Luke compromised and stifled her musical output. She released her third studio album, Rainbow, last August, marking her first album since 2012’s Warrior.
Rainbow and “Praying” were nominated for best pop solo performance and best pop vocal album, respectively. Kesha lost in both categories to Ed Sheeran, but with a massive co-headlining tour with Macklemore scheduled for this summer and the ability to finally release music again, she’s already won something far more resonating than an award.
Bryan Rolli is a reporter who specializes in streaming entertainment. He writes about music and film for Forbes, Billboard, and the Austin American-Statesman. He met Flavor Flav in two separate Las Vegas bowling alleys and still can’t stop talking about it.