R. Kelly’s management has issued a statement in response to the social media campaign #MuteRKelly and to an initiative by WOC, the women of colour branch within Time’s Up, which took aim at the singer over allegations he has sexually abused women.
“Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” the statement began.
The statement continued: “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 judgment 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.”
“Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never — and will never — be silenced. 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. —Thanks for listening. R. Kelly management,” the statement concluded.
WOC, the organization devoted to helping women in the aftermath of sexual abuse, issued a statement Monday urging further investigation into Kelly’s behaviour, which has come under closer scrutiny over the last year as women have come forward to accuse him of everything from sexual coercion to physical abuse. Kelly has denied such charges.
“We demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women and their families for more than two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us — their time is up,” the statement said.
The social media campaign #MuteRKelly has sought to stop his music from being played and to cancel his concerts, and Time’s Up said it is joining that call.
Time’s Up is seeking action from RCA Records, Kelly’s label; Spotify and Apple Music, which stream Kelly’s catalog; and Ticketmaster, which has sold tickets to his concerts. And it is calling for the cancellation of a May 11 concert in Greensboro, N.C.
A letter from the Time’s Up group started by saying, “We see you. We feel you. Because we are you.”
It continued: “For too long, our community has ignored our pain. The pain we bear is a burden that too many women of colour have had to bear for centuries. The wounds run deep. As Women of Colour within Time’s Up, we recognize we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. We intend to shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need.”
In a further statement, Smollett-Bell said: “We stand linked with our sisters and will no longer tolerate the predatory behaviour of R. Kelly to go unchecked. This is a call to action to #MuteRKelly. His music must be turned down and the voices of these brave survivors must be heard.”
The organizers of the #MuteRKelly movement said they were gratified that Time’s Up was amplifying their cause.
“We will not stop until R. Kelly is held accountable for his sexual misconduct against black girls and women, and we urge ALL artists, radio stations, record companies, streaming platforms and concert venues to cut ties with this accused predator,” Oronike Odeleye, a co-founder of the movement, said in a statement.
Kelly’s behaviour has been in question, beginning when he wed a 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994. The late singer had been his protege. The marriage was later annulled and the two refused to confirm that it even happened.
He was later accused of child pornography after a widely circulated videotape that appeared to show him having sex with, and urinating on, a teenage girl. He was acquitted of all charges in 2008 and continued to work in the music industry and sell out stadiums around the United States.
In recent years, more women have come forward to allege misconduct, which has resulted in an increase of protests against Kelly.
WATCH BELOW: Family members allege R Kelly has their ‘brainwashed’ daughters, ‘holding them against their will’
A woman told Rolling Stone last year that she was in a long-term relationship with the singer that was sexually and physically abusive. Parents claimed their daughter was being held by Kelly as part of a sex cult but their daughter, who was of age, denied their claims. And recently a woman in Dallas filed a lawsuit against the singer claiming he gave her a sexually transmitted disease, and she claimed he was grooming her to be a part of a sex cult.
Kelly has denied all allegations against him.
Students and staff at the University of Illinois petitioned against Kelly’s scheduled appearance for May 5 because of the sexual misconduct allegations. The appearance was cancelled after over 1,300 students signed the petition.
Ticketmaster posted a note on its website saying Kelly “is no longer performing” at the University of Illinois in Chicago Pavilion’s Pre-Mother’s Day Love Jam concert.
Kelly, whose hits include Ignition, I Believe I Can Fly, Step in the Name of Love, and Bump N’ Grind, took to Twitter to confirm the news and stated he didn’t know why his performance was cancelled.
“First of all, I want to apologize to all of my fans in Chicago, and basically all around the world wherever I’m performing at and they cancelled me,” Kelly confirmed in a video Sunday on his Twitter. “I don’t know why they cancelled the show. I never heard of a show being cancelled because of rumours, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. So I apologize to you guys and in the meantime, I’m going to try to get to the bottom line of it, you know, as far as my lawyers are concerned, and see exactly what happened and why I was cancelled.”
—With files from the Associated PressFollow @KatieScottNews
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.