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May 24, 2016 06:00 PM

As Kesha‘s contentious court case drags on, one friend and collaborator says she’s choosing to focus on something positive: music.

“She’s dealing with it all with incredible grace,” says Ben Folds of Kesha’s ongoing lawsuit against Dr. Luke. “I think she’s holding up really, really well.”

Kesha, 29, wants out of her contract with his label, Kemosabe Records, alleging he drugged, raped and abused her; Luke, 42, vehemently denies the claims.)

Folds, 49, has known Kesha since before she broke out with “TiK ToK” in 2010 and accompanied her on the piano Sunday night at the Billboard Music Awards, where they performed a stunning cover of Bob Dylan’s deep cut “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”

Ben Folds and Kesha
Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic

But the performance almost never happened. Over the course of three days last week, it was canceled, then added back in to the show’s lineup, after a dispute between Kesha and Kemosabe. (“Kesha’s performance … was always approved, in good faith” and was “only suspended when Kemosabe learned Kesha was to use the performance as a platform to discuss the litigation,” the label told PEOPLE in a statement on Thursday.)

“She’s dealing with it the way a real artist deals with it, which is through her art,” says Folds.

Indeed, when she hit the stage in Las Vegas Sunday night, Kesha delivered a striking, solemn rendition of the song, simply waving and blowing kisses to the standing audience, even after – mid-set – someone in the crowd screamed ”Free Kesha!”

Ben Folds and Kesha
Steve Granitz/WireImage

“She could’ve gone up there and made some kind of loud statement, she could’ve worn a shirt that says something, she could’ve flipped off the camera – all kinds of stuff that people might have thought that she would’ve done she could’ve done – but what she did was restrained in every single way and was focused on her discipline and music,” adds Folds. “And that’s why I’m interested in her.

“She’s a musician. So the answer is: She’s dealing wonderfully, and that’s because she’s concentrating on her art and not the circus.”

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