Diane Warren had just gotten home from watching Lady Gaga rehearse with a full orchestra for her Oscar night performance. Gaga will sing “Til It Happens to You,” the song she and Warren wrote about rape, nominated for Best Song.
In the corridors and changing rooms behind the stage, people were whispering about Kesha — whose rape accusation against producer Dr. Luke is sending ripples through the music world and has led to a standoff in court with her erstwhile label at Sony, which is holding her to a recording contract.
“She’s brave,” said Warren, when I called her late that night. “Braver than I would’ve been. She can’t record ’til she gets a decision from a judge. In this business three years can be like 10 years, unless you’re Adele. So she must feel strongly to take that stand.”
Suing Sony is one thing. Going public against a producer with whom she has a contract is another, said Warren. “She’s still signed to the guy,” Warren said. “This is still someone that controls you.”
Rape is not what it once was in our society. It has come out of the shadows to the point where women stand out in the light and name names, as they do in the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” the film that includes “‘Til It Happens to You.”
Now it is coming out of the shadows in Hollywood.
The sordid saga of Bill Cosby, and coincidentally the Oscar-nominated song – which draws on experiences of sexual assault experienced by both Gaga and Warren – makes Kesha’s saga just the latest candid, public discussion of rape.
Kesha has accused her producer, real name Lukasz Gottwald, of drugging and assaulting her repeatedly. Gottwald denies the charges – which never became a criminal matter because Kesha never went to the police.
Observers might reasonably ask: Why were no criminal charges ever brought? This doesn’t lend credibility to the singer’s accusations.
But what’s interesting is Kesha’s peers are not asking that question. The 20-plus women performers who have stepped forward in solid support of Kesha instead say: “My heart is with @KeshaRose,” as Ariana Grande did. Kelly Clarkson tweeted, “Trying 2 not say anything since I can’t say anything nice about a person… so this is me not talking about Dr. Luke.”
Which makes me wonder: What do they know that we don’t about the realities of the music business?
“I think a lot of these girls have dealt with that,” said Warren. “They feel bad for her. And there’s a lot of genuine empathy for her right now. Two, three years ago, people didn’t talk about rape. If it happened, you didn’t talk about it. “
She added: “These women are warriors. These girls that were too afraid to talk about it, now they are speaking up. Kesha was really brave to do what she did. That took a lot. “