Controversy-embroiled singer Kesha will headline the 2016 edition of San Diego Pride, the annual LGBT celebration at Marston Point in Balboa Park, which this year takes place July 16 and 17. Tickets, priced at $20 for a weekend pass and $120 for VIP passes, are now on sale at sdpride.org/festival/
Kesha Rose Sebert rose to prominence with her 2009 solo debut single, “Tik Tok,” which topped the national Billboard charts for nine consecutive weeks. Her other hits include “Die Young,” “Your Love Is My Drug,” “Take It Off,” “Blah Blah Blah” and “Blow.” In 2013, when she was still known as Ke$ha, the Nashville-reared singer co-headlined a concert here with Pitbull at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista. She performed at the same venue in 2011.
Kesha, 29, has been embroiled for much of the past 18 months in a prolonged legal battle with music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, whom she has accused of sexual and verbal abuse.
Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Kelly Clarkson and other stars have rallied to the defense of Kesha, who has so far been unsuccessful in her legal bid to break free of her recording contract with Luke. One of the most successful producers and songwriters in pop music, Luke has also worked with Clarkson, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Robin Thicke, Shakira, Pitbull, R. Kelly, former San Diego singer Adam Lambert and many more.
Kesha has failed in her attempts to get a preliminary injunction against Luke and Sony Records. Last month, a New York judge dismissed her claims against Luke of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender violence. As a result of the continuing controversy, Kesha has become a high-profile spokeswoman against sexism in the music industry.
On Saturday, she performed Lady Gaga and Diane Warren’s Oscar-nominated ballad about rape, “Til It Happens to You,” at the Los Angeles Humane Society’s annual gala fundraiser. She dedicated the song to “every man, woman, child and animal that has ever been abused.”
Given her recent controversies and evolving image, it will be intriguing to see if the sexually charged tone of Kesha’s previous concert tours is toned down for her San Diego Pride performance in July. During her 2013 tour, for example, her profanity-filled stage show found her receiving simulated oral sex, repeatedly grabbing her crotch and using a stripper pole.
However age-inappropriate for Kesha’s young fans, none of these antics are unusual or shocking at pop concerts, which are often fueled by suggestive and provocative stage shows. San Diego Pride, meanwhile, has a long tradition of all-inclusive, free-spirited mass celebration.
The trick for Kesha, in light of her recent travails, will be to find a balance that works. Here’s hoping she does.