Robert Sylvester Kelly popularly known by his stage name as R. Kelly is an American famous singer, songwriter, recording artiste, stage performer, record producer, former professional basketball player, investor, entrepreneur and a philanthropist. He was born on 8th January 1967 in Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois in the United States of America. He is currently 50 years old.
Kelly is the third child in a family of four children. R. Kelly was raised by his single mother, Joanne, who was also a singer. R. Kelly’s father was absent throughout his childhood life. R. Kelly childhood was filled with pain and sadness. His childhood was very difficult due to poverty and no father around. He only has his mother with him as a teenager. R. Kelly began singing in his local church choir at age of 8 years old.
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 R. Kelly was often sexually abused by a woman who was at least ten years older than him. At the age of 11 years old, R. Kelly was shot in the shoulder while riding his bike at home. The bullet as reported is still lodged in his shoulder.
Kelly was 8 years old when he had his first girlfriend name Lulu. They would hold hands together and eat make-believe meals inside their playhouse built from cardboard, where they both 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, R. Kelly girl friend Lulu was pushed into the water by older children in the neighborhood. A fast-moving current swept her away while she screamed R. Kelly’s name. Shortly after, she was found dead downstream. R. Kelly calls Lulu his very first musical inspiration.
Kelly was a street performer under the Chicago “L” tracks. In 1981, R. Kelly entered Kenwood Academy in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, where he met his music teacher Lena McLin, who encouraged him to perform at the Stevie Wonder classic “Ribbon in the Sky” in a high school talent show.
McLin also encouraged him to leave the basketball team and focus his career on music. R. Kelly played high school basketball with the late basketball player Ben Wilson. Later on, R. Kelly sang “It is So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” at Ben Wilson’s funeral.
As a teenager, R. 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 meaning “Musically Gifted Men”.
In 1990, the group “Musically Gifted Men” recorded and released their first single “Why You Wanna Play Me”. After releasing the single, the group disbanded and R. Kelly went solo. In 1991, Kelly signed a record deal contract with Jive Records and teamed up with a new group from Chicago called “Public Announcement”. Sadly, R. Kelly’s mother Joanne died in 1993.
Kelly began his music career professional in late 1980s and started performing on events and ceremony. In 1992, R. Kelly rose to fame with the group “Public Announcement”. In 1993, R. Kelly quit the group “Public Announcement” and went solo with the release of his debut studio album “12 Play”.
Kelly is known for a collection of major hit singles including Bump N’ Grind, Your Body’s Callin, I Believe I Can Fly, Gotham City, The World’s Greatest, I’m a Flirt (Remix), Ignition (Remix), If I Could Turn Back the Hand of Time and Trapped in the Closest.
In 1998, R. Kelly won three Grammy Awards for “I Believe I Can Fly”. His distinctive sound and style of music has influenced numerous hip hop and contemporary R&B artiste worldwide. R. Kelly was the first musician to play professional basketball, before going into music professionally.
In 1996, R. Kelly was nominated for a Grammy award for writing Michael Jackson’s song “You Are Not Alone”. In 2002 and 2004, R. Kelly released collaboration albums with rapper Jay-Z and has been a guest vocalist for other American hip hop artistes like Nas, Sean Coms and The Notorious B.I.G.
The Recording Industry Associate of America (RIAA) has recognized R. Kelly as one of the best-selling music artistes in the United States of America with over 40 million albums sold worldwide. In March 2011, R. Kelly was named the most successful R&B artiste of the last 25 years by Billboard.
Kelly has released 12 solo studio albums and has sold over 60 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide, making him the most successful R&B male artiste of the 1990s. R. Kelly has been credited for helping redefine R&B and hip hop, earning himself the nicknames “King of R&B” and “King of Pop-Soul”.
Kelly has been listed by Billboardas the most successful R&B/Hip Hop artiste of the past 25 years from1985-2010 and also the most successful R&B artiste in history. Throughout his career, R. Kelly has won numerous awards which include a Guinness World Records, Grammy Awards, BET Awards, Soul Train Awards, Billboard Awards and American Music Awards.
In 1996, R. Kelly married Andrea Kelly, his former backup dancer and mother to his three children. He built a house in Olympia Fields and moved in with his family in 1997. In January 2009, it was reported that R. Kelly has finalized divorce with his wife Andrea Kelly. His Olympia Fields house later became the subject of a foreclosure lawsuit in 2011, and has since been bought by Rudolph Isley.
Kelly has contributed to various charities throughout his career. In 1995, R. Kelly donated £20,000 to ex-footballer Garth Crooks representative for a UK charity. In 2003, R. Kelly donated $50,000 to the Texas Military Family Foundation after the fund raising gig he staged for them.
Kelly has also been in charity events in efforts to bring awareness for the fight against breast cancer. In 2003, R. Kelly released the single “Soldier’s Heart” and donated all the proceeds of the song to the families of American soldiers.
In 2007, R. Kelly released the song “Rise Up” for Virginia Tech after a school shooting, and donated 100 percent of the net proceeds to the families of the massacre’s victims.
In 2010, R. Kelly performed at a benefit concert for the Special Olympics of Angola and donated several specially-designed wheelchairs and the same year he also penned the song “Sign of a Victory” for the FIFA World Cup and all proceeds benefited African charities.
In 2011, R. Kelly performed at a charity event in Chicago benefiting Clara’s House, a program designed to build employment, housing, health care, and education in the projects of Chicago. In 2016, R. Kelly donated cases of water to the Flint water crisis.
Kelly has won countless number of awards during his career as a songwriter, producer and singer. His awards include a Guinness World Records, 3 Grammy Awards, 2 American Music Awards, 1 BET Awards, 6 NAACP Image Awards, 11 Soul Train Awards, and numerous Billboard Music Awards.
Kelly is currently one of the richest and most influential artiste in the United States of America with an estimated net worth of $150 million.
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