R. Kelly

R. Kelly
Kelly at the premiere of Chapter 13-22 of Trapped in the Closet in 2007
Robert Sylvester Kelly

(1967-01-08) January 8, 1967 (age 52)
Other namesRobert Kelly
Years active1989–present
(m. 1994; ann. 1995)

Andrea Kelly
(m. 1996; div. 2009)
AwardsList of awards and nominations
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboard
  • guitar
Associated acts
Basketball career
Atlantic City Seagulls (USBL)[3]
Personal information
Listed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
Playing career1997–1999[4]
PositionShooting guard / Small forward[5]
Career highlights and awards

Robert Sylvester Kelly (born January 8, 1967)[7] is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former professional basketball player. A native of Chicago, Kelly began performing during the late 1980s and debuted in 1992 with the group Public Announcement. In 1993, Kelly went solo with the album 12 Play. He is known for various songs including "Bump N' Grind", "Your Body's Callin'", "I Believe I Can Fly", "Gotham City", "Ignition (Remix)", "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time", "The World's Greatest", "I'm a Flirt (Remix)", and the hip-hopera "Trapped in the Closet". In 1998, Kelly won three Grammy Awards for "I Believe I Can Fly".[8] His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous hip hop and contemporary R&B artists.

Although Kelly is primarily a singer-songwriter, he has written, produced, and remixed songs and albums for many artists. In 1996, he was nominated for a Grammy for writing Michael Jackson's song "You Are Not Alone".[8] In 2002 and 2004, Kelly released collaboration albums with rapper Jay-Z and has been a featured vocalist for other hip hop artists like Nas, Sean Combs, and The Notorious B.I.G.

Kelly is one of the best-selling music artists in the United States, with over 30 million albums sold both domestically.[9] He has released 12 solo studio albums, and sold over 75 million albums and singles worldwide, making him the most successful R&B male artist of the 1990s and one of the best-selling music artists of all time.[10][11] He is credited for helping redefine R&B and hip hop, earning the nicknames "King of R&B" and "King of Pop-Soul".[12][13] He is listed by Billboard as the most successful R&B/Hip Hop artist of the years 1985-2010 and the most successful R&B artist in history.[14] He has won awards including BET, Soul Train, Billboard, NAACP, and American Music Awards.

Since the 1990s, Kelly has been the subject of numerous allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, often with underage girls, all charges he "categorically denies".[15] In 2002 he was indicted on 13 counts of child pornography,[16] but was acquitted of all charges in 2008.[17]

In January 2019, a widely viewed Lifetime docuseries detailed allegations of sexual abuse by multiple women, allegations Kelly denies. Facing pressure from the public using the #MuteRKelly hashtag, RCA Records dropped Kelly.[18]

Early life

Robert Sylvester Kelly was born on January 8, 1967, at Chicago Lying-in Hospital in Hyde Park, Chicago.[19] Kelly is the third of four children.[20] Kelly's mother, Joanne, was a singer and raised her children in the Baptist church. Kelly's father remains absent in his son's life.[21] Kelly's family lived in the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing project in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood.[22] Kelly's high school music teacher Lena McLin described Kelly's childhood home: "It was bare. One table, two chairs. There was no father there, I knew that, and they had very little."[23] Kelly began singing in the church choir at age eight.[20]

Kelly grew up in a house full of women, whom he said would act differently when his mother and grandparents were not home. At eight years of age Kelly was often sexually abused by a woman who was at least ten years older than himself. "I was too afraid and too ashamed," Kelly wrote in his 2012 autobiography Soulacoaster about why he never told anyone. The abuse ended when he was 14. At age 11, he was shot in the shoulder while riding his bike home; the boys stole his bike while he lay bleeding on the sidewalk; the bullet is reportedly still lodged in his shoulder.[24]

Kelly was eight years old when he had his first girlfriend, Lulu. They would hold hands and eat make-believe meals inside their playhouse built from cardboard, where they "vowed to be boyfriend and girlfriend forever." Kelly wrote in his autobiography that their last play date turned tragic when, after fighting with some older children over a play area by a creek, Lulu was pushed into the water. A fast-moving current swept her away while she screamed Kelly's name. Shortly thereafter, she was found lifeless downstream. Kelly calls Lulu his very first musical inspiration.[24]

Kelly was a street performer under the Chicago "El" tracks.

Kelly entered Kenwood Academy in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood in the fall of 1981, where he met music teacher Lena McLin, encouraged Kelly to perform the Stevie Wonder classic "Ribbon in the Sky" in a high school talent show.[21][25][26] McLin encouraged a young Kelly to leave the high school basketball team. She said he was furious at first, but after his performance at the school talent show, he changed his mind.[23]

Kelly played basketball with the late Illinois state champion basketball player Ben Wilson and sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" at Wilson's funeral.[27]

An undiagnosed learning disability left Kelly unable to read or write. He dropped out of high school and as a teenager, Kelly began street performing under the Chicago Transportation Authority "L" tracks and eventually formed a group with friends Marc McWilliams, Vincent Walker and Shawn Brooks. In 1989, Kelly, McWilliams, Walker, and Brooks formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men). In 1990, MGM recorded and released one single "Why You Wanna Play Me"; after its release the group disbanded. In 1991, Kelly signed with Jive Records[28] and teamed with a new group from Chicago called Public Announcement.

Kelly was extremely close to his mother Joanne who took Robert with her to church and a local club where she performed. She passed away from cancer in 1993. He would later name his eldest daughter after her. [29]

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