Diane Warren On Kesha Performing 'Til It Happens To You' At Humane Society Gala: 'I Got Pushback'

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Angela Weiss/Getty Images for The Humane Society Of The United States

Zendaya, Diane Warren and Kesha attend The Humane Society of the United States' to the Rescue Gala at Paramount Studios on May 7, 2016 in Hollywood, Calif. 

The emotional high point of May 7’s Humane Society Gala in Los Angeles honoring Diane Warren came when Kesha sang a raw, emotional version of Warren and Lady Gaga’s Oscar-nominated song, “Til It Happens To You.” The idea for Kesha’s appearance came from Warren herself.

Warren, a long-time animal rights activist, suggested the “Tik Tok” singer, who has been in a legal fight against her producer, Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, after accusing him of sexual and verbal assault. “I think she’s super talented. I first met her at a PETA event,” Warren said, adding that Kesha spent time with Warren and Lady Gaga when they rehearsed “Til It Happens To You” for the Oscars.

Kesha Gives Emotional Performance of 'Til It Happens to You' at Humane Society Gala: Watch

Warren’s suggestion didn’t come without some pushback from her team and from the Humane Society. “They said “You know, maybe we shouldn’t do it. The press won’t be good’,” Warren said. “I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’” The objections weren’t over Kesha so much as they were over using a song written about sexual assault from the CNN documentary, The Hurting Ground, and playing it over images of farm animals being abused. But from the start, Warren has felt the song spoke up not just for sexual abuse survivors, but for any creature being mistreated. “One thing about that song is it does speak to a lot of issues and I thought it could be so powerful if you paired that with some of what goes on with animals,” Warren said.

The rehearsals with Kesha on Saturday were emotional. “You could tell is was really hard for [Kesha],” Warren said. “She was reliving something in her life that was really painful for her.” 

When it came time to perform at the Gala, Kesha dedicated the song to “every man, woman, child and animal that has ever been abused.” She then choked up during the first line and took a moment to compose herself before signaling to Warren, who was accompanying her on piano, to start again. When Kesha struggled at the start, Warren said she thought, “‘Oh, shit.’ We rehearsed a bunch of times, but you never really know until someone’s out there. It’s even more powerful that the beginning is like that. It’s so raw and real.” 

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After Kesha finished, she and Warren engaged in a long embrace, as Warren congratulated the singer on her performance: “I just said, ‘You did so great. I know it was hard for you, but you did so amazing.'” 

Lady Gaga, who was in New York and couldn’t attend the event,  thought so too. She praised the performance Sunday morning, tweeting, “Killed it @KeshaRose. I could feel your pain. Girl these boys won’t be in charge forever. The wisdom of women is rising. Let’s get louder.”

Leona Lewis and Steven Tyler also performed Warren-penned songs at the Humane Society gala.

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