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*R. Kelly was born on this date in 1967. He is a Black singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist.
Robert Sylvester Kelly was born at Chicago Lying-in Hospital in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is the third of four children with an older sister and brother and a younger brother. His mother, Joanne Kelly, was a professional singer who raised her children in the Baptist church, where she sang lead in the choir. The identity of his father, who has always been absent in Kelly's life, is not publicly known. His family lived in the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing project in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood.
Kelly's high school music teacher described Kelly's childhood home: "It was bare. One table, two chairs. There was no father there, I knew that, and they had very little." Kelly began singing in the church choir at age eight. Kelly grew up in a house full of women, who he said would act differently when his mother and grandparents were not home. From age eight to 14, Kelly was sexually abused by an older female family member. Explaining why he never told anyone, Kelly wrote in his 2012 autobiography Soulacoaster that he was "too afraid and too ashamed".
Around age 10, Kelly was also sexually abused by an older male who was a friend of the family. At age 11, Kelly was shot in the shoulder while riding his bike; the bullet is reportedly still lodged in his shoulder. While Kelly himself stated that he was shot by boys who were attempting to steal his bike, a family friend stated that Kelly shot himself while attempting suicide.
He has been credited with helping to redefine R&B and hip hop, earning nicknames such as the "Pied Piper of R&B". In 1998, Kelly won three Grammy Awards. Kelly has written, produced, and remixed songs, singles, and albums for many artists. Kelly has sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists. He is the 55th best-selling music artist in the United States, with over 32 million album sales. Kelly was named by Billboard as the Top R&B/Hip Hop Artist between 1985-2010 and the most successful R&B artist in history.
Kelly has contributed to various U.S. and international charities through donations and the proceeds of special performances. In 1995, Kelly donated £20,000 to a U.K. charity, accepted by representative and former footballer Garth Crooks. In 2003, Kelly donated $50,000 to the Texas Military Family Foundation after the fund-raising performance, he staged for them. Kelly has also been in charity events in efforts to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. In 2003, he released the single "Soldier's Heart" and donated all the proceeds of the song to the families of American soldiers. In 2007, Kelly released the song "Rise Up" for Virginia Tech after the 2007 school shooting and donated the net proceeds to the families of the victims. In 2010, Kelly performed at a benefit concert for the Special Olympics of Angola and donated several specially-designed wheelchairs and the same year he also wrote 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 now-shuttered (Jan 2018) facility designed to build employment, housing, health care, and education in the projects of Chicago. In 2016, he donated cases of water to the Flint water crisis.
Since the 1990s, Kelly has been accused of sexual abuse and misconduct, often with underage girls, all charges he denies. In 1996, he married Andrea Kelly, his former backup dancer, and mother of his three children. In 1997, he built a house in Olympia Fields and moved in. Andrea filed a restraining order against Kelly in September 2005 after a physical altercation, ultimately filing for divorce in 2006. In January 2009, it was reported that Kelly's divorce was finalized. In 2002, he was indicted on 13 counts of child pornography but was acquitted of all charges in 2008. In January 2019, a widely viewed Lifetime docu-series titled Surviving R. Kelly detailed allegations of sexual abuse by multiple women, allegations Kelly denies. Facing pressure from the public using the Mute R. Kelly hashtag, RCA Records dropped Kelly.
On February 22, 2019, Kelly was indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. On July 11, 2019, Kelly was arrested on federal charges alleging sex crimes, human trafficking, child pornography, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. Kelly faces a total of 22 federal counts, including child pornography, kidnapping and forced labor, as of January 29, 2021. As a result, he is currently incarcerated at Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago.