Janelle Monáe & Kesha Rightfully Stole the Show at the GRAMMYs

Easily one of the most moving moments of the entire night

Ishani Nath
Kesha GRAMMY performance: Kesha sings "Praying" at the 2018 GRAMMY Awards wearing an all white pantsuit with flowers
(Photo: Getty)

It was a GRAMMY moment that was guaranteed to be moving, but Kesha’s performance was nothing short of an incredibly powerful call to action.

In the age of Time’s Up, a fight against sexual harassment and inequality, Kesha’s return to the award season red carpet was a significant one. The singer, who was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance, has endured an extremely public battle with mega producer Dr. Luke for years of alleged emotional and sexual abuse, including drugging. Kesha first took the producer to court in 2014 in an effort to void her contract with him and enable her to continue her career elsewhere. In response, Dr. Luke filed to countersue the singer for defamation and breach of contract, sparking a bitter legal battle that kept Kesha out of the recording studio for years. And this was all well before Time’s Up and Me Too became a hashtag.

Fans and celebs, including Adele, Demi Lovato and Lady Gaga, have been vocal in their support for Kesha, and at the 2018 GRAMMY Awards, multiple musicians literally stood with the artist as she performed “Praying”—a song inspired by her traumatic experience with Dr. Luke.

Now, in light of the recent Time’s Up movement, joining hundreds of celebrities together in the fight against inequality, Kesha’s lengthy battle, which inspired her GRAMMY-nominated Rainbow album, have rightfully gained even more attention.

Janelle Monáe introduced the singer’s performance with a speech that was absolutely fire. Monáe made it clear that she wasn’t just standing on the GRAMMYs stage as an artist, but as a young woman with her fellow sisters that make up the music industry.

“We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and human beings,” said Monáe, wearing both a Time’s Up pin and a white rose pin, a symbol of solidarity prompted by Voices in Entertainment (the newly-formed music industry organization which arose in support of Time’s Up). “We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up. We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind and time’s up for the abuse of power. Because you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it’s going on right here in our industry as well.”

Not only did Monáe call out the rampant abuse of power in all industries, she then called for those watching, which included some of the music industry’s most powerful names, to work for change.

“And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well,” she said. “So let’s work together—women and men—as a united music industry, committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay and access for all women.”

With that, Monáe introduced Kesha—flanked by music A-listers including Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Bebe Rexha, Julia Michaels and Andra Day—for the performance that gave us all the feels. The entire squad took the stage wearing white.

Host James Corden, visibly emotional as he watched the group of female performers surround Kesha following her performance, summed up the feelings of many audience members when he said, “Music often resonates more than spoken word ever could.” But, simply stated, Kesha’s performance once again reiterated that TIME. IS. UP.

Related:

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The 10 *Wildest* GRAMMYs Moments of All Time (Hello, J.Lo)
Alessia Cara, Cardi B & More! Here’s The Full List of GRAMMY Nominations

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