How Ben Abraham ended up playing The Grammys with Kesha
If you saw the pop artist Kesha’s powerful performance at the Grammy’s today (if not, you should seek it out), you probably didn’t notice, far in the back, a dude in a white suit playing keyboards.
Turns out that was Melbourne musician Ben Abraham.
Aside from making records under his own name, he is a songwriting gun for hire.
He and Ryan Lewis wrote ‘Praying’, the anthem of defiance Kesha performed at the awards night, for the singer when Lewis was in Australia as part of Macklemore’s tour in 2016. (Lewis appears on Macklemore’s Hottest 100-winning ‘Thrift Shop’.)
“[Lewis] had an idea for a song that he then forwarded onto me,” Abraham told Double J’s Tim Shiel just after coming off stage at the Grammys in New York City.
“[His management] were like ‘you should write with this guy Ben Abraham while you’re in Melbourne’.”
The pair spent two days in a studio and came up with the guts of what became ‘Praying’. Lewis reached out to Kesha’s people, offering her the song.
“The nice thing is I had already met Kesha once before,” Abraham said.
I was just a lowly keyboard player in Kesha’s band, but I will say I got the keep the white suit that I wore.Ben Abraham
“The first ever co-writing session I did was with her.
“Every word we wrote and every note [of ‘Praying’] we wrote was just for her. At no point was it ever intended for anybody else.”
How did he end up at Madison Square Garden playing with one of the world’s biggest pop stars?
“I definitely wasn’t intending to be in the States for the awards,” he said.
He had been texting about a week ago with Kesha, who mentioned her nerves about the performance.
“She said … Oh my God, do you want to play?
“Ten minutes later I got a call from my manager … within four days [Kesha’s management] were like, ‘Are you around next week, could you come to New York, could you play at the Grammys?’”
It was an offer he could not turn down.
And it came with some perks: a performance he'll probably never forget, and a few glimpses of people like Lady Gaga and JAY-Z backstage.
Oh, and a new outfit.
“I was just a lowly keyboard player in Kesha’s band, but I will say I got to the keep the white suit that I wore.”