Kesha's turning point: "True Colors" looks and sounds like a triumphant return

The embattled singer returns with a new song—"a declaration of my truth"—and looks refreshingly happy

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published April 29, 2016 2:53PM (EDT)

Kesha   (AP/Wade Payne)
Kesha (AP/Wade Payne)

It is so good to see you back, Kesha. In the early hours of Friday morning, the 29 year-old singer and songwriter — who has spent the past few years embroiled in a bitter legal battle with Sony Music and producer Dr. Luke — released her first single since 2013.

Kesha had been teasing the new collaboration with Zedd for days in advance, declaring, "This is more than a song. it's a declaration of my truth #truecolors." And she's certainly very clear what she wants the world to see what her declaration looks and sound like — strong, defiant and happy at last.

"True Colors" originally appeared as the title track of Zedd's 2015 album. Zedd was among the celebrities who've offered support to Kesha throughout her legal fight, publicly offering this past winter, "Very very sorry to hear about your whole situation. I'll be happy to produce a song for you if you want my help." She did — and the result is powerful.

This month, Kesha surprised the crowd at Coachella by performing it live, one of her first public appearances since the contentious court ruling in February that sided against her fight to break free of the label and the man she says repeatedly sexually abused her. And earlier this week, she announced on Instagram, "it's a miracle when someone gives you a chance at finding your voice again with no reason other than that he is a f__king beautiful person with a heart of gold."

In a teaser video she posted to Facebook this week, Kesha is pink-haired and sequined — not exactly a stretch from the glitter bomb persona that made her famous. But the sight of the singer now exuberantly running through rose bushes, a big old smile on her face, makes a beautiful contrast to the young woman we recently saw in the back of a courtroom, sobbing as a judge affirmed the decision to "do the commercially reasonable thing" rather than "decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated." It's a far cry, even, from the image of her just earlier this month, makeup free and looking serious as she told her Instagram followers that "I got offered my freedom IF i were to lie. I would have to APOLOGIZE publicly and say that I never got raped. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS behind closed doors. I will not take back the TRUTH. I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again."

That very genuine-looking new smile on Kesha's face represents a turning point in the story. On Twitter, Zedd didn't offer too many details but did assert that "Just to clarify: We didn't use any loop holes. Kemosabe / RCA gave us permission to release this song!" Dr. Luke replied to thank him for the clarification. Though he's still engaged in a lawsuit with Kesha's mother, claiming "defamation and tortious interference," it seems some sort of small truce has been reached. And while Kesha's creative dispute goes on, this new incarnation of her, one ready to declare "I'm not afraid, I'm not" but to do it so joyfully, is so welcome.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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