Kesha pays musical tribute to Ginsburg with On The Basis Of Sex song
Movie about US Supreme Court Justice brought pop singer to tears
When Kesha was approached to write the main single for the film soundtrack of On The Basis Of Sex, about US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she thought she was the wrong person for the job.
At our interview at the London West Hollywood hotel, the 31-year-old US singer-songwriter admitted she was daunted by the prospect of memorialising the life of a legal legend in song.
But she saw the "inspiring" movie and changed her mind.
Opening here on Jan 10, On The Basis Of Sex follows the true story of young lawyer Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) as she and her husband Marty (Armie Hammer) take a groundbreaking case to the US Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination.
It premiered in the US on Dec 25, in line with 85-year-old Justice Ginsburg's 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court.
Kesha said: "The film just made me so impassioned and brought me to tears at some point, and I just really wanted to pay homage to Justice Ginsburg and live up to her legacy."
The song is called Here Comes The Change, and starts this way: "One day I'll be gone/ The world will keep turning/ I hope I leave this place/ Better than I found it."
She explained her thinking and writing process with her collaborators Stephen Wrabel and Drew Pearson.
"It started with an idea that since the movie goes through different periods of time, we wanted it to be a song that could have happened at the beginning of the movie in the 50s, it could have happened in the 70s or it could be a current song.
"I am a huge Bob Dylan fan, so you can definitely hear the inspiration in the song. But we also wanted it to be a political song, a protest song, and a song that would inspire change.
"Change was the relevant word that has been around us this (past) year in politics, but after I saw the movie, it just kept coming out."
Perhaps Kesha's connection to On The Basis Of Sex was because of her own public legal battles.
She has accused her former producer Dr Luke in multiple lawsuits of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as employment discrimination since 2014, while he claims breach of contract and defamation by her.
During this period, Kesha - who achieved success with her best-selling debut 2010 album Animal and chart-topping singles Tik Tok and We R Who We R - released only one single and her career stalled.
She made a spectacular comeback in 2017 with her critically-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated third album Rainbow - which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US - and its lead single Praying, a noticeable departure from the electropop sound of her previous work.
Kesha said: "I can only speak to what I've been through, and I unfortunately can't speak about it because I am still in litigation. But I do feel like what Ruth Bader Ginsburg did is empower women. The reason she is such an inspiration to me is because she's a fighter and a wonderful role model.
"She is one of the greatest role models I have had in my life and for the #MeToo movement. I just think it is important for women to tell their truth and I support the truth."
Speaking more generally about the existing laws that are still discriminating on the basis of sex, she said: "It is shocking when I saw the film the first time. I had no idea there were all these discrimination laws on the basis of sex. It sent me down a rabbit hole of looking into it more, and there are still discrimination laws that are currently in place that need to be looked at.
"I am no politician, but I do always stand up for equality for every person and agree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she said there is still work to be done."
One of the ways that Kesha is serious about fighting for equality is her partnership with the Hack Harassment organisation that fights online bullying. Her own experiences with bullying as a child informed her decision.
She said: "If anybody has gone through it, it's terrible. I went through that starting in school and then even when I got into music. On the Internet, I feel like it is a dangerous place for opinions - strangers giving you opinions you didn't really ask for. I think that words matter and they mean something and I just hope people are a little more careful in how we treat each other.
"I have been treated with no love and respect before, and it hurts my feelings. It doesn't matter who you are. I've channelled that into my music a lot."
When asked how she was bullied in school, she replied with a laugh: "Oh, for everything. I had purple hair. I made my own pants. They were velvet. I mean, I still think they are cool."
Kesha said she is a spiritual person who overcame her obstacles one step at a time, crediting her single mother for being a role model.
"I learnt everything from her. She is my hero. She is a songwriter and we write songs together all the time. She taught me to be fearless. She taught me if I wanted something, to go and get it, and to not rely on someone else. She taught me the art of songwriting. She passed on her craft to me and now I consider myself a songwriter first.
"It is something that no one can ever take away from me. It is mine, and as a woman, it makes me feel very strong and I appreciate that so much."
The writer is the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards.