No one knew whether Kesha was actually going to perform at the Billboard Music Awards last night. Her tumultuous relationship with her label (owned by her alleged abuser and producer Dr. Luke) kept her performance in a constant state of flux. She was performing. Then she wasn't. Then she was again, as long as she didn't talk about anything that mattered.
Last night, Kesha got up on that stage, accompanied by Ben Folds, and performed a slower, more soulful version of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe." Because she couldn't speak, Kesha let her music do the talking. It may not have been justice for a woman who claims to be trapped, and desperate, and miserable, but it certainly was beautiful.
No one at the Billboard Music Awards spoke about Kesha's trial—neither her legal nor emotional one. No one voiced their support for her. But in her performance—her departure from the dance-pop that made her name in favor of a slowed-down cover of a folk song—Kesha showed herself strong, if sad.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.