Kesha Talks Reclaiming Her Voice After Lawsuit: 'You Don't Have to Be Defined by Your Past'

Kesha opens up about finding happiness as she prepares to release her Kesha Rose Beauty line and new album, High Road

Kesha is reclaiming her voice.

The pop star roared onto the scene 10 years ago, infamously rap-singing about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on her braggadocios breakout hit “TiK ToK.” Tapping into the millennial zeitgeist, she earned a reputation as a wild child, unleashing a string of you-only-live-once party anthems, from “Your Love Is My Drug” to “Blow.”

But the party came to a record-scratching halt in 2014 when the star entered rehab for an eating disorder and sued her producer and record label executive Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, 46, alleging he drugged and raped her and emotionally abused her for a decade. (Luke denies the allegations and has countersued for defamation and breach of contract.)

Their bitter lawsuit culminated in a dramatic 2016 hearing in a New York City courthouse, where Kesha broke down in sobs as a judge dismissed her request to be released from her contract with Luke; the judge later went on to dismiss Kesha’s claims, and she remains contractually tied to the producer, whose lawsuit is ongoing.

But the turmoil of the past few years is finally in her rear view.

Bruce Glikas/WireImage

“You can go through s— and come out the other side swinging,” Kesha, 32, says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “I want people to know that you don’t have to be defined by your past or be a prisoner of something that you had to go through — you are allowed to find happiness.”

And so she has.

Kesha made a triumphant return with her 2017 album Rainbow, which earned two Grammy nominations. And now the singer — who is launching her Kesha Rose Beauty makeup line on Nov. 29 — will return to her fun-loving roots with her fourth LP, High Road, due out Jan. 10.

For more on Kesha’s new makeup line, Kesha Rose Beauty, and her new album, High Road, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Wednesday.

Kesha and Big Freedia
Kesha performing at the 2019 American Music Awards. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“On the last record, I had a lot of serious things to address,” says Kesha, who gave fans a taste of her new album when Jack Daniel’s celebrated the launch of its new Tennessee Apple whiskey in October. “But now I’m ready to be joyful and happy and make people feel good with songs that capture my love of life, like: Don’t let tomorrow get in the way of having an amazing time today, because you just don’t know how long you have on this earth.”

Kesha’s new outlook on life inspired many of her new songs, including the Big Freedia collab and her latest release

“You can be joyous even if you’ve gone through tragedy,” she says.

Kesha. Steve Granitz/WireImage

Over the past five years, in addition to squaring off with Dr. Luke in court, Kesha (real name: Kesha Rose Sebert) has addressed her struggles with body image and mental health.

“In my 20s it was all about how I looked. Now I focus on my soul and my spirit, what my body and mind needs,” she says of confronting her issues and practicing self-care by spending time with her partner of six years, writer Brad Ashenfelter, as well as her family and her cats — simply being nice to herself.

“I have little mantras on my mirror, like, ‘You’re the s—’ because my therapist told me to — and it makes me laugh,” she says. “Being full of love and happiness is the point of life — I can’t take myself too seriously.”

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