Artist News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal Live Business Top Stories

R Kelly speaks out against campaign to boycott him

By | Published on Tuesday 1 May 2018

R Kelly

R Kelly’s management team have responded to a campaign that is calling on people to boycott the singer’s music. The #MuteRKelly campaign received new attention yesterday after it was backed by the Women Of Color group within Time’s Up, the entertainment industry-led initiative that is demanding proactive measures to stop sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace.

As new sexual abuse accusations against Kelly have emerged in recent months, so the campaign against him has also gained more momentum. On Friday, a planned show in Chicago was cancelled following protests. In their statement, reps for Kelly called it an “attempted public lynching of a black man”.

“R Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement”, says the statement. “We understand criticising a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals – [but] in this case, it is unjust and off-target”.

It continues: “We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgement without the facts. Soon it will become clear Mr Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time”.

“R Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never – and will never – be silenced”, it concludes. “Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture”.

Numerous sexual abuse allegations have been made against Kelly over the years, including accusations involving underage girls. Although he has always denied any wrongdoing and when specifically charged over claims he had filmed the sexual abuse of an underage girl, he was acquitted in 2008.

However, the musician has nevertheless been on the receiving end of many civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse, most of which have been settled out of court. American journalist Jim DeRogatis has been prolific in documenting the various accusations and litigation, most recently in a piece for Buzzfeed last year.

Earlier this year, an article in Rolling Stone and a BBC Three documentary detailed various accusations against Kelly, some of them new, including that he sexually abused a girl from the age of fourteen, later boasting to another woman that he had “trained” the girl to be his “pet”. And in April he was sued by a woman claiming that he intentionally infected her with a sexually transmitted disease and that she had been “groomed to join [his] sex cult”.

The statement from Women Of Color Of Time’s Up explicitly lists a number of the accusations that have been made against the musician, saying that Kelly “married a girl under eighteen years of age; was sued by at least four women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor; was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography; [and] has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm”.

It calls on people to put pressure on companies associated with Kelly, including Sony’s RCA label, Ticketmaster, streaming services Spotify and Apple Music, and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex where his next live show is set to take place on 11 May.

“The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause”, says the statement. “With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R Kelly’s abuse made by women of colour and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us: Their time is up”.

After his Chicago show was cancelled, Kelly appeared in a video on Twitter suggesting that he was considering legal action against the show’s promoters.