R. Kelly

R. Kelly
Kelly at the premiere of Chapter 13-22 of Trapped in the Closet in 2007
BornRobert Sylvester Kelly
(1967-01-08) January 8, 1967 (age 51)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Other namesPied Piper
Years active1989–present
(m. 1994; ann. 1995)

Andrea Kelly
(m. 1996; div. 2009)
3 (including Ariirayé)[1][2]
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 a collection of major hit singles 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". His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous hip hop and contemporary R&B artists. Kelly became the first musician to play professional basketball, when he was signed in 1997.[6]

Kelly has written, produced, and remixed songs and albums for many artists, including Aaliyah's 1994 debut album Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. In 1996, Kelly was nominated for a Grammy for writing Michael Jackson's song "You Are Not Alone". In 2002 and 2004, Kelly released collaboration albums with rapper Jay-Z and has been a guest vocalist for other hip hop artists like Nas, Sean Combs, and The Notorious B.I.G.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has recognized R. Kelly as one of the best-selling music artists in the United States with 40 million albums sold as well as only the fifth black artist to crack the top 50 of the same list.[8] In March 2011, R. Kelly was named the most successful R&B artist of the last 25 years by Billboard.[9][10][11] Kelly 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.[12][13] He has been credited for helping redefine R&B and hip hop, earning the nicknames "King of R&B" and "King of Pop-Soul".[14][15] He is listed by Billboard as the most successful R&B/Hip Hop artist of the past 25 years (1985-2010) and also the most successful R&B artist in history.[10] Throughout his career, Kelly has won numerous awards, including a Guinness World Records as well as countless other awards like Grammy, BET, Soul Train, Billboard, NAACP, and American Music Awards.

In 2002 Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography;[16] he pleaded not guilty and was acquitted of all charges in 2008.[17]

Early life

Robert Sylvester Kelly was born on January 8, 1967 at Chicago Lying-in Hospital in Hyde Park, Chicago.[18] Kelly is the third of four children.[7] Kelly's single mother, Joanne, was a singer. She raised her children Baptist. Kelly's father was absent throughout his son's life.[19] Kelly's family lived in the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing project in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood.[20] 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."[21] Kelly began singing in the church choir at age eight.[7]

Kelly grew up in a house full of women, whom he said would act differently when his mother and grandparents were not home. At a young 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 autobiography about why he never told anyone. At age 11, he was shot in the shoulder while riding his bike home; the bullet is reportedly still lodged in his shoulder.[22]

Kelly was eight years old when he had his first girlfriend. They would hold hands and eat make-believe meals inside their playhouse built from cardboard, where they "vowed to be boyfriend and girlfriend forever." 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 after, she was found dead downstream. Kelly calls Lulu his very first musical inspiration.[22]

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

Kelly entered Kenwood Academy in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood in the fall of 1981, where he met his music teacher Lena McLin, who encouraged Kelly to perform the Stevie Wonder classic "Ribbon in the Sky" in a high school talent show.[19][23][24] McLin encouraged a young Kelly to leave the basketball team. She said he was furious at first, but after his performance at the school talent show, he changed his mind.[21] Kelly played high school basketball with the late basketball player Ben Wilson. He sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" at Ben Wilson's funeral.[25]

As a teenager, Kelly began street performing under the Chicago "L" tracks before he eventually formed a group with his 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 their first single "Why You Wanna Play Me"; after releasing the single, the group disbanded. In 1991, Kelly signed with Jive Records[26] and teamed with a new group from Chicago called Public Announcement.

Kelly's mother Joanne died in 1993.[27]

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