R Kelly is a renowned American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer and a former USBL professional basketball player. He is known for evergreen hits like “Your Body’s Callin”, “I Believe I Can Fly”, “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time”, and “The World’s Greatest”.
Kelly launched his music career in the late 80s but tasted a major success after a debut with the group – Public Announcement. That was in the early 90s.
He was a professional basketball player and was signed in 1997 before finding his way to music, which turned out to be his love and the best of all his careers. Apart from writing, remixing and producing songs for American first-rate singers like King of Pop Michael Jackson and Aaliyah, Kelly has also collaborated and cooked up nice musical lines with popular legends like Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G, Nas and others.
His Journey To Stardom
R Kelly was born Robert Sylvester Kelly on January 8, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois. His family which consisted of his single mom, Joanne, and three sisters lived poor in a public housing project in Bronzeville neighborhood in Southside Chicago.
Joanne was a singer while her husband was an absent father, who devoted no time to raising his son and beautiful daughters. Kelly’s mother passed away in 1993 – just a year before his alleged secret marriage to his first wife.
Solo Career and Mainstream Success
Kelly inherited his mother’s singing talent and began singing in their Baptist church choir at the age of 8. He attended Kenwood Academy, Hyde Park, where he continued singing and was also part of the basketball team.
Kelly formed a group MGM with three other friends and began street performing under the Chicago ‘L’ tracks. In 1989, the group competed in TV talent show “Big Break” and won the $100,000 grand prize.
They released their first single in 1990 but disbanded shortly after. Kelly signed with Jive records in 1991 and joined another group called Public Announcement. With them, he released his debut album “Born into the 90’s” in 1992. Kelly broke from the group and went solo in 1993.
His solo career was immediately successful following the release of his debut solo album “12 Play” on 8 November 1993 which was an instant hit. The album produced the song “Bump N’ Grind” which peaked atop and spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. A year, later “12 Play” was certified platinum 6 times by RIAA.
Kelly then added producing and songwriting to his repertoire. He was responsible for bringing his protege pop singer, Aaliyah to the limelight. Kelly produced her entire debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” which debuted at #18 on Billboard 200 and sold over 3 million copies in the US alone.
The album title sparked controversies following his marriage at the time to Aaliyah who was under-aged and only 15. The pair later annulled the marriage. Kelly’s other protege which he produced under his Rockland Records included Boo & Gotti and Sparkle.
Kelly’s success continued with his song penning skills. He wrote and composed songs for top acts like Toni Braxton, Barry White, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and others. R Kelly received his first Grammy nomination for writing, producing and composing the Micheal Jackson hit song “You Are Not Alone”.
In 1996, he received three Grammy Awards for writing producing and composing “I Believe I Can Fly” which was the soundtrack for the Michael Jordan animated movie “Space Jam”. Kelly has also written hit songs used as a soundtrack for other movies, they include; “Gotham City” for Batman & Robin (1997) and “Fortunate” for Life (1999).
His sophomore self-titled album was released in November 1995. It peaked at #1 on Billboard 200 chart making it his first. It sold over 4 million copies receiving a 4-times platinum certification from RIAA.
Continued Success and Legacy
R Kelly became a professional basketball player in 1997 after he signed with USBL’s Atlantic City Seagulls. Fortunately, the contract didn’t prohibit his involvement with music. Kelly ended his Bball career in 1999 to become the first musician ever to have a professional basketball career.
His fourth studio album “R.” (1998) is his most commercially successful album to date, having sold 8 million copies in the US and another 4 million worldwide. R Kelly’s success continued throughout the 2000’s.
At the time of this writing, Kelly has released 13 studio albums, and 3 collaboration albums (2 with Jay Z). He has been described by Billboard as the most successful RnB artists of the past 25 years (1985-2010).
He has sold well over 40 million albums worldwide to become one of the best-selling artists of all time. The King of R&B, in addition to the 3 Grammy awards have won 11 Soul Train Awards, 6 NAACP Image Award, 1 BET Award and numerous Billboard Awards. R Kelly ventured into movie directing and production from 2015.
Robert Sylvester Kelly may have had his share of life’s ups and downs, it’s on record, however, that he’s one of the successful R&B lords produced in the 1990s.
In addition to releasing 13 powerful studio albums, over 100 million of his records have been sold worldwide. His net worth, as of 2017, stands at $150 million.
Details Of R Kelly’s Wife and Kids
Mr R’s last known wife is Andrea Kelly, who he married in 1996. Chigaco-born Andrea is also the mother of Kelly’s three children – Joann Kelly (born 1998), Jaya Kelly, now Jay (born 2000) and Robert, Jr. (born 2002).
Raunchy R&B singer and reality star Andrea (born January 28, 1974) have since separated after almost 13 years of staying together. Following Andrea and Kelly’s divorce in 2009, the former went on to marry Brian Mckee, another R&B singer in 2014. But she divorced him just after two months of marriage, alleging extramarital affairs.
One of Kelly’s daughters is a transgender. Jay, born Jayya, came out as transgender on her Instagram page in 2014, confessing that he first identified himself as a male when he was between six to seven years. While Jay has the support of his mother, his father, Kelly is yet to comment on his daughter’s decision to become a son.
Kelly’s first marriage was to Aaliyah in 1994. Their union, however, collapsed in 1995 after it was marred by controversies. First, it was alleged that Aaliyah (born January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn) married Kelly underage and that she lied about her age in their marriage certificate (She first met Kelly at 12 while she wedded him at 15 but signed her marriage certificate as an 18-year-old).
Secondly, it was alleged that Aaliyah’s parents didn’t consent to the marriage, amid claims that she fell pregnant for Kelly. Aaliyah died with eight of her music crew in the Bahamas on August 25, 2001, in a plane crash.
R Kelly has faced so many controversies. From being acquitted of child pornography charges to allegedly running a sex cult in Georgia, where he exploits young women, the R&B singer has certainly fared not so well as a superstar.
While it’s still unclear who the respected singer is currently dating, his last known girlfriend was Kitti Jones, a DJ at Dallas Radio Station. The R Kelly and Jones’ relationship was deemed to have been rosy and running smoothly until it emerged in October 2017 that the R&B singer abused, punished and forced Jones to have sexual relationships with other women.
These horrific allegations were made by Jones during an interview with Rolling Stones Magazines. While dropping the bombshell, Kitti admitted that she almost took her life at a point due to her experiences. The two met at an event in 2011. Jones later joined R Kelly in his Chigaco home after they began dating.