Kesha, without the dollar sign

Photo: Courtesy of RCA Records

If you’re anyone with ears, living on Earth, you’ve heard Kesha’s voice voice.

Photo: Courtesy of RCA Records

If you’re not familiar with Kesha’s music, what she’s done for today’s Pop culture, the eating disorder’s ass she just kicked or knowledgeable about the edgy starlet’s road to riches, we’ve got you covered.

But before getting started, here’s are a few, short personal details, I’d like for you to read.

(1) No, I don’t personally know Kesha (or Ke$ha). (2) No, no one paid me to write this 10,000-word article on behalf of the ‘Timber’ singer and (3) I am not a die-hard fan in defense about anything (a) Kesha creates, (b) writes to sing, (c) sings on behalf of another entity, or (d) that she chooses to Rap on record.

But don’t get me wrong. Kesha Rose Sebert is a young and successful, risk-taking artist of our generation, and it’s attractive. As a woman, who is in her age bracket and is also working hard to make an impact in the entertainment industry, she is a genuine inspiration. So when reading about the Pop songstress making it through rehabilitation due to bulimia nervosa and then, reading that she had a close friend update her fans occasionally via Twitter about her well-being and to thank them for their unconditional support, is not only courageous and responsible on her part as a role model and a public figure, but it was the best entertainment news I’ve read in a while (and I read for a living).


And let me just say this: Contrary to the popular belief (and to the tongues of my fellow critics), Kesha is unquestionably appealing and here’s why:

At the age of 17, after being convinced by prospective producers and label owner, she dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. At 18, she signed two deals (recording and music publishing) with Dr Luke, which seemingly went sour shortly after her signing, according to this statement readily available on her Wikipedia page:

Dr Luke became preoccupied with other incoming projects, having enjoyed success writing and producing for Pop star Kelly Clarkson’s album, ‘Breakaway’. Kesha then signed with David Sonenberg’s management company, DAS Communications Inc, in 2006, hardly interacting with Dr Luke after that.

And to add to that, she held down a job as a waitress to make ends meet. She was struggling to get by. It was around that time, she ironically added the dollar sign to her name. But her struggles didn’t start there. Her mother, Patricia Rose ‘Pebe’ Sebert, is a singer-songwriter who co-wrote the 1978 single ‘Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You’ with Hugh Moffatt for Joe Sun. Pebe was a single mother who struggled financially while supporting herself, Kesha, and her older brother Lagan; they relied on welfare payments and food stamps to get by. Started from the bottom, aye?

And to add to that add-on, to this day, she’s not credited for the vocals on Flo-Rida’s number one single ‘Right Round’ (US release) and has not collected a copper or zinc cent from it. As of September 2011, it has sold 5,000,000 digital downloads in the USA.

One can only imagine what the total number of downloads are today. We just saw Flo-Rida perform that song live during Super Bowl season, so we’re sure it’s still making bank. And now, that I think of it, I’ll even go as far as stating, Kesha has been an inspiration to Nicki Minaj’s road to Pop-singing heaven since 2011.


Regardless, since Kesha has sold over 35M records and counting, but it wasn’t easy and you should also know that it almost cost the 27-year-old her life. According to the star’s mother Patricia Rose “Pebe” Sebert, who is also a singer-songwriter, her daughter’s battle with bulimia nervosa started almost ten years ago, when she signed her deal with Dr Luke.

*All of the folks that I work with behind-the-scenes are often on their computers all day like me, or running around like me, or not taking care of yourself until you’re in a critical situation like me, so I can only imagine what happens to the people who are in the public eye and the kinds of demands, sometimes impossible, that they are hearing from their managers, label heads, etc.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is often characterized by binge eating and purging and affects the nervous system. It can lead to potassium loss and health deterioration, with depressive symptoms that are often severe and lead to a high risk of suicide. Please read more about the sickness.

Before learning that Kesha was suffering from such disease, she looked different to me in every image I’ve seen of her (and not in a Lady Gaga way). I couldn’t really make a connection with her and at the time, her image lacked authenticity. In my truest opinion, we witnessed many compositional clashings and most of her looks (style-wise) were unorganized, to say the least. So, I didn’t subscribe to the image that was Ke$ha. It didn’t feel right until I saw her ‘Crazy Kids’ cover featuring I felt like I could see her face for the first time.

The Problem

Last week, just about every major news outlet in America (and God knows where else) publicized the removal of Kesha Rose’s “trademark dollar sign” from her name, as if it was news deserving such momentum and coverage, they didn’t really focus on the image issues within the media or bring back the relevance of why we should care in the first place. All I kept reading was quoted tweets and death threats that her fans sent to Dr Luke.

Every chance we get as media, we should remind our female readership of the kind of bravery that Kesha took to get help, even after nearly a decade of suffering.

And to be rather honest, if you’re listening, most recording artists express every emotion through their music. During a commentary session with Spotify for her second studio album ‘Warrior’, the brave-hearted singer shared,

Instead of being a victim, I’m always going to be a warrior, she hesitated. No matter what anybody throws at me or what kind of shit I go through, I’m not going to be a victim. I’m going to be a warrior and I think it’s something my fans, my animals can relate to, cause we’ve all been put through shit. No matter what it is, everybody’s had to deal with something. But instead of you know, letting it take over, and letting whatever / whoever that is win and beat you down, you stand up and face it and fight it.

It has been written that Kesha’s ‘Warrior’ album was heavily criticized by Dr Luke and she wasn’t granted her usual creative input. In addition, her single ‘Die Young’, which debuted at number thirteen on Billboard Hot 100, was pulled from radio airwaves as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut and another single ‘Machine Gun Love’, which she states as her favourite she’s written, was completely removed from the album against her wishes. As a result, the singles were under-performed and fans started to blame her longtime collaborator Dr Luke for its failure. A fan even went as far as setting up a petition to “free” Kesha from Dr Luke’s management and accused him of “stunting” Kesha’s growth as an artist. The petition has over 11,500 signatures, needing 12,000 to reach its full potential.

Her collaborative full-length with The Flaming Lips “Lipsha” was cancelled even though her collaborators were hoping to release the album in the Winter of the same year.

Dollar Sign

A lot of newcomers in the world of Rap music like Joey Bada$$, Travis $cott, Ty Dollar $ign, and all rappers A$AP related are donning dollar signs in their names like rappers wore medallions in the ‘80s to early ‘00s. But it didn’t start with them. Rap veterans like Too $hort and Ma$e both affixed the dollar sign to their names before they were making big legitimate money to claim on their taxes.

Whether it’s an attribute to welcome money into an aspiring talent’s life or to glorify the assuming life of a [street] hustler, in which they very well may be or influenced by, it is important to understand and accept what we attract into our lives when we make specific choices. Often unknowingly, we attract energies, situations, people, and scenarios into our lives just by decision-making as simple as what we choose to call ourselves, what we allow others to call us, the way we choose to stylize our names, from the way we portray ourselves in, to the public, and most importantly, what we say.


I think my assessment of Kesha’s shortfall of authenticity was correct. I’d like to believe that she removed the dollar sign from her name because she finally realized that she was personifying a character that she wasn’t, and it could have been her end.

I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself, but I’ve found it hard to practice, she said in a statement at the time.

If you are an aspiring artist and you’re looking for exposure of any sort, learn from Kesha and be wise in your decisions.

Kesha, if you ever see this, I’m happy that you’ve taken the necessary steps to get help. I wish you an untroubled and healthy life, moving forward. Cheers. Your story about sneaking into Prince’s house and being kicked out by his security is pretty hilarious. You should hear my story about when my guy and I tried to stalk out Stonesthrow Records HQ.

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is the North American Press Agent and US Business Manager for Oxlade; Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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