'I personally didn't know my voice could go that high,' she says of comeback single 'Praying'

By Nolan Feeney
December 22, 2017 at 09:21 AM EST
Jason Myers

This story originally appeared in EW’s Year End issue. To read more, buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Click here for more Best of 2017 (Behind the Scenes) stories. 

If there was one reliable source of spine-tingling chills in music this year, it was Kesha’s triumphant comeback single “Praying.” Specifically, the epic high note she hits just before the final chorus that inspired this heartwarming supercut of fans flipping out over the performance.

It turns out that Kesha — one of EW’s Entertainers of the Year— felt similarly.

“I had my own personal freak-out about hitting that note because I personally didn’t know my voice could go that high,” the singer tells EW in the new Best & Worst issue, on stands now. “It’s a testament to the [idea] that people should push and challenge themselves, because you never know what you can do. I didn’t hit it the first time, so the lesson there is to keep trying.”

“Praying” was the first single off of Rainbow, Kesha’s first studio album in nearly five years, and some songs — like the title track — took nearly as long to complete. “‘Rainbow’ took the longest because I wrote it on a little keyboard by myself,” she explains. “And then I had this dream of [having] this whole orchestra behind me on it, and two years later that dream came to fruition. Mixing it [took] another year and a half, so that one song took over three and a half years to finish. [But] the vision was always in my head of exactly what it should be.”

Her patience paid off: Rainbow earned Kesha her first Grammy nominations, for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance (for “Praying”). “It’s been a dream of mine [to be nominated for] as long as I can remember,” she says. “In the ’80s, my mother made an album, and my grandmother always said she wanted to go with her to the Grammys. So now that I’m going, I’m going to be taking my mom, and my grandmother will be there in spirit. That’s just so meaningful to me.”

Still, the singer says the real highlight of 2017 wasn’t racking up accolades or putting out new music — it was meeting Bob Dylan. “I never thought it would ever happen,” she says. “He’s influenced my life so much, it was like meeting a deity. And I got two hugs!” (Take that, Jerry Seinfeld.)