Kesha unveiled an uplifting new song, “Praying” on Thursday. It’s the first new solo song she has released since 2012’s Warrior and will be on her forthcoming album Rainbow, out August 11th. Kesha shared the piano ballad with a personal essay about its creation via Lena Dunham’s weekly “Lenny Letter.”
Kesha co-wrote the song with Ryan Lewis and Ben Abraham and begins the track with a sobering monologue. “Am I dead?” Kesha asks. “Or is this one of those dreams, those horrible dreams that seem like they last forever?… If there is a God or whatever, something, somewhere, why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known, I’ve ever loved?”
The accompanying video moves between grim black-and-white and hopeful, vivid color. Kesha plays the piano while outfitted in angel wings. At the end of the clip, she appears to walk on water. “Praying” address an unspecified tormentor: “You brought the flames and you put me through hell/ I had to learn how to fight for myself/ And we both know all the truth I could tell/ I’ll just say this: I wish you farewell.” Kesha punctuates some lines by rising into a ragged, forceful wail; she is joined on the track by distant backing vocals and a few darting violins.
Since October 2014, the singer has been embattled in several lawsuits in an effort to be released from her contract with Sony and producer Dr. Luke, whom she has accused of sexually assaulting and abusing her. The producer in turn sued Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. Dr. Luke also filed two libel lawsuits against Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert, and she in turn filed counterclaims. Some of the lawsuits have been dropped, others have been denied, though the complicated legal battle continues. In March, Kesha’s recently amended lawsuit was also rejected.
“It’s from our darkest moments that we gain the most strength,” Kesha wrote in Lenny Letter. “There were so many days, months even, when I didn’t want to get out of bed … But I dragged myself out of bed and took my emotions to the studio and made art out of them. And I have never been happier with a body of work as I am with this record. I hope this song reaches people who are in the midst of struggles, to let them know that no matter how bad it seems now, you can get through it.”
On Wednesday, Kesha teased the release of the new song in an announcement that seemingly referenced the circumstances surrounding her legal turmoil. “Animals, I have a surprise for you. Your support and love and kindness has gotten me through, hands down, the hardest time of my entire life,” Kesha said in a video message on Twitter. “My new song, ‘Praying,’ is coming out tomorrow, and I couldn’t have done this without you. I fucking love you.”
At the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, amid a prolonged musical absence due to her litigation with Dr. Luke, Kesha performed an emotional cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” with longtime mentor Ben Folds accompanying her on piano. Dr. Luke’s label Kemosabe Records had originally canceled Kesha’s performance before it was re-approved.
Jerry Seinfeld makes headlines after dodging three hugs from singer Kesha. Watch here.