For many years, various shock allegations have plagued singer R Kelly. From holding young girls captive and taking advantage of underage girls to marrying Aaliyah aged 15, he’s somehow been able to dodge the allegations and continue with his music career. Until now, that is.
Surviving R Kelly, a new Lifetime docu-series airing in the US, has put each and every one of these accusations back in the spotlight – all of which the singer vehemently denies. But with so many young women finally speaking out on camera to share their stories, the world has finally stopped to listen. And people are shocked.
Not surprisingly, Hollywood has also turned on R Kelly. While many of his A-list collaborators have remained mum on the subject (and receiving flak for it), others have been more vocal. While the story continues to develop, Ahlan! brings you up to speed with the biggest scandal of 2019 (and it’s only January!).
STARS REFUSED TO BE PART OF DAMNING SERIES
Lady Gaga and Jay-Z were among the stars who refused to be part of the new documentary, according to the series producer.
Dream Hampton has revealed she and her team had a wish list of celebrities and former Kelly collaborators they wanted to chat to for the new Lifetime network series, but many of them weren't interested.
Erykah Badu, Questlove, Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim, and Celine Dion also refused to appear in Surviving R. Kelly, according to the producer.
"It was incredibly difficult to get people who had collaborated (artistically) with Kelly to come forward," she tells the Detroit Free Press. "We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked JAY-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle - people who have been critical of him."
John Legend was the biggest name who agreed to speak on camera, making him a hero to Hampton, along with the brave women who came forward to talk about their alleged experiences with Kelly.
"They’re everything, these women," the producer adds. "We call them survivors. They’re so brave. Their stories are important, and they have every right to share them. Many of them have said they (want) to prevent someone else from falling into (such situations).
"There are no big pay cheques for these women. We can’t pay them to be in a documentary. There are no endorsement deals. This kind of exposure doesn’t lead to some great something. I admire them so much and have all the respect in the world for them."
R. KELLY'S MANAGER ACCUSED OF THREATENING FAMILY BEHIND SERIES
R. Kelly's manager has been accused of threatening the parents of the singer's alleged victim Joycelyn Savage for participating in Surviving R. Kelly.
According to a police report obtained by The Blast, Timothy Savage called police to his Georgia home last week, claiming he was receiving threats from the singer's manager Don Russell.
Savage's daughter is among the women believed to be part of Kelly’s alleged cult. She has denied the claim, but Joycelyn’s parents have continued to fight and believe she has been brainwashed by the singer.
Her father told police that Russell advised him that "it would be best for him and his family if the documentary does not air".
A report was made for "harassing communications", and forwarded to officials at the U.S. Criminal Investigations Department.
JOHN LEGEND: 'APPEARING IN THE DOCUMENTARY DIDN'T FEEL RISKY AT ALL'
John Legend has insisted that it was "an easy decision" to appear in the damning documentary, and is the biggest celebrity name to speak on camera as part of the six-hour Lifetime docuseries.
After producer Dream Hampton revealed in an interview that most celebrities had refused to appear on her show, social media users praised John for being the only A-lister to say yes, and he responded by insisting he didn't consider it a risky move.
"We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly. These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice," he tweeted.
"To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all. I believe these women and don't care about protecting a serial child abuser. Easy decision. Also I'm happy to support the work of people like my friends at (nonprofit organisation) @ALongWalkHome who have been speaking out on behalf of the survivors for a long time."
LADY GAGA'S R. KELLY COLLABORATION REMOVED FROM STREAMING PLATFORMS
Although she initially remained mum on the drama surrounding R. Kelly, Lady Gaga finally spoke out and removed her 2013 R. Kelly collaboration Do What You Want from popular download and streaming services.
Gaga issued a lengthy statement declaring her support for the women who have accused R. Kelly of abuse in the docuseries.
She apologised for working with him on the song, and vowed to remove it from her back catalogue on all streaming and download platforms.
"I stand behind these women 1000 per cent, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously. What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible," Gaga wrote in her statement.
"I can't go back, but I can go forward and continue to support... victims of assault... I intend to remove this song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again. I'm sorry, both for my poor judgement when I was young and for not speaking out sooner. I love you."
According to Billboard.com, the singer didn't waste any time following through on her promise, as the duet has been removed from the iTunes Store and is no longer part of the tracklisting for her album, Artpop. The album is also currently unavailable to purchase from the store, although the other songs from it can be bought individually.
It is no longer available to stream on Apple Music in America, it is not playable on Gaga's official YouTube channel or on Spotify.
However, fans can still stream or buy an alternative version of Do What U Want featuring different lyrics and Christina Aguilera instead of R. Kelly on Apple Music, iTunes and Spotify.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA SHARES SUPPORT FOR LADY GAGA
Christina Aguilera voiced her support for Gaga after having the R. Kelly version of her 2013 collaboration removed from her back catalogue.
Fortunately, following a live duet on The Voice, there is a different version of the song that features Christina instead of the disgraced singer. The ladies' duet has since become a popular tune online, even returning to the iTunes' top 100 chart, and the news has prompted Christina to applaud Gaga for "doing the right thing".
After reposting a tweet about the chart news, Christina wrote, "This is a reminder of women sticking together- and not letting a man take ownership of a great song/ moment... And if anything the message of this song remains that although you may have had my body, you will never have my heart, my voice my life or my mind (sic)."
"Being a survivor of past predators myself, these lines spoke to me, which is why I did the song. I embrace all survivors of violence and abuse," she added. "Holding a special place in my heart, and you @ladygaga, for doing the right thing!"
R. KELLY'S LAWYER HITS BACK AT GAGA
Gaga is only now denouncing her 2013 collaboration with R. Kelly because she's concerned it will hurt her Oscars chances. Of course, that’s according to the embattled R&B veteran's lawyer.
R. Kelly’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, claims Gaga has an ulterior motive for only now speaking out against her former collaborator.
"Lady Gaga did a song with him in 2013 and there were no problems (then). There were rumours about Mr. Kelly back then," Greenberg told U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America.
"What has changed between then and now? I'll tell you what's changed between then and now: she says, 'If I don't disclaim my association with him, it might hurt my chance to get an Oscar.' That's exactly what it is."
However, the musician's lawyer is adamant the criminal probes will eventually fall apart. "We know what happened and we know those things (instances of misconduct) didn't happen," he declared. "The man was not operating a harem or a scult or holding people hostage or anything like that."
Instead, Greenberg wants his client to go after TV bosses behind the series. "Hopefully he'll sue Lifetime... for defamation, because people shouldn't be able to do this to someone," he added.
R. KELLY PARTIES WHILE THE DRAMA UNFOLDS
Police were reportedly called to R. Kelly's birthday party in Chicago in the early hours of 10 January.
The singer turned 52 on Tuesday and celebrated his birthday by partying at V75 Nightclub in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday, seemingly brushing aside the controversy that's been surrounding him following the broadcast of the docuseries.
However, his night of partying was interrupted by the arrival of police officers, who were reportedly responding to a call from a person who told them Kelly was at the venue and there was a warrant out for his arrest.
Law enforcement sources have confirmed to TMZ.com that they did go to the club and make contact with him, but once they determined there wasn't actually a warrant out for his arrest they let him go about his business.
It is unclear if the caller was pulling a prank or if they genuinely believed there was a warrant.
Video taken from the party shows Kelly, dressed in a beige coat, sunglasses and red baseball cap, belting out the opening of his 2003 song Bump N' Grind surrounded by screaming fans, before telling the crowd, "It's my birthday and I don't give a **** what's going on tonight."
BEYONCE'S DAD KEPT GUARD OVER DESTINY’S CHILD
Mathew Knowles and his then wife Tina kept a close watch on Destiny’s Child when they met with R. Kelly in 1998.
The group met with the singer to discuss a potential collaboration when the girls - Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and then-members LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett - were 15 or 16 years old.
"I was there, and my former wife Tina was there," the music manager told Metro.co.uk. "When they went to the bathroom, Tina would go with them. They did not leave our eyes."
R. Kelly worked with artists including Aaliyah, on Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, Kelly Price, Sparkle, and Ciara. But despite reported pressure from the singer's management at Sony, a wary Knowles passed on a collaboration for his up-and-coming group.
"The thing with R. Kelly was, he liked to record late at night, around midnight," Mathew continued. "And what was different with his studio was that one room had a recording suite, and next door was a club, with 40 or 50 people dancing."
According to editors at Metro.co.uk, a source confirmed Knowles' account, adding that R. Kelly "made several requests" to work with Destiny’s Child.
"Mathew and Tina rejected all of them because they didn’t want him anywhere near the band which is why they are one of the few acts to debut in the 90s without an R. Kelly song in its official discography," the source added.
Beyonce's dad confirmed "it was both" a combination of R. Kelly's reputation and the business differences that put him off.
R. KELLY'S EX IS NOT AGAINST HIM RECONNECTING WITH THEIR KIDS
R. Kelly's ex-wife isn't against him rekindling his relationship with their children, despite the assault allegations being levelled against him.
The hard-hitting docuseries came to an end earlier this month, but those watching did not include Kelly or his three children - Jay, Joann and Robert Jr..
The singer has allegedly not contacted his kids, who are now 16, 18, and 20, or ex-wife Andrea Lee Kelly for months. However, a representative for Andrea told TMZ.com that she's won't prevent him from getting back in touch with the trio if that's what he and they want.
"Andrea acknowledges that the children are all grown now and fully understand the accusations being levelled against their dad," the website writes. "She'd have to see if the children are interested in rekindling a relationship with their father first."
Despite her willingness to allow her offspring to reconnect with their father, Andrea made her own stance clear about her feelings towards her ex-husband - claiming in the Lifetime series that she was abused by the singer during their marriage.
She also stated that it was over concern for her children that she didn't speak out previously. But, now they are grown up, she feels ready to tell her story.
"They are resilient, they're amazing, they just make me smile and it makes me emotional because I have the best kids," she smiled about her children in the series.