We won’t rehash the ugly, violent injustices that Kesha has been forced to endure for the past couple years—the abuse she’s survived is well-known and well-documented. What we will focus on is that the 30-year old singer is back, releasing her tremendous new single, “Praying,” this morning.
It’s impossible to separate the song from the circumstances preceding it; every word Kesha sings (or speaks; the video commences with a minute-long spoken soliloquy) hits with the weight of the trials she’s faced and overcome; the track opens, “You almost had me fooled/Told me that I was nothing without you.” In a Lenny Letter announcing the single, she wrote: “I have channeled my feelings of severe hopelessness and depression, I’ve overcome obstacles, and I have found strength in myself even when it felt out of reach.”
Over sparse piano chords and intermittent backing harmonies, Kesha relays a stunningly kind and empowered narrative, dead-set on progress, strength, and reconciling with herself. “We both know all the truth I could tell/I’ll just say this as I wish you farewell: I hope you’re somewhere praying/I hope your soul is changing.” A plain assertion of, “I’m proud of who I am,” opens the second verse before she jumps an octave, her voice thunderous and overwhelming as a bass beat slams alongside her, hammering her words home.
This song isn’t a beginning or end point, and it isn’t closing the book on the previous chapter. But “Praying” reconciles with her past, and offers strength and solidarity to people enduring abuse. “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,” she writes. “If you have love and truth on your side, you will never be defeated. Don’t give up on yourself.”