I Believe I Can Fly
"I want America to know that you can't believe everything you hear, and nowadays, you can't believe everything you see." R. Kelly
Urban R&B musician R. Kelly was shot to stardom with his crossover hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” which was featured in the Michael Jordan movie Space Jam (1996). The multi-platinum and Grammy-winning singer, who has sometimes referred to himself as the “Pied Piper of R&B,” continued to produce several more smash hit songs including "Ignition (Remix)" (2003) and his mini-opera "Trapped In The Closet" (2006).
6' 1" tall Kelly, whose trademarks are his Zorro mask and French braids, has drawn controversy with his ongoing scandal and charges involving a sex tape with an allegedly underage girl. The sex tape allegedly was made sometime between January 1998 and October 2000, when the girl may have been as young as 13. The case is not over yet, and more recently, the videotape reportedly will be viewed by the public and the media in court.
Childhood and Family:
The eldest of four children born to Joanne Kelly, Robert Sylvester Kelly was born on January 8, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois. His mother died in 1993 and his father has remained unknown. As a teenager, Kelly, nicknamed Kells, attended Kenwood Academy High School and used his love for basketball and music to escape from the gritty streets he was living in.
On August 30, 1994, Kelly married actress-singer Aaliyah (born January 16, 1979; died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001). However, the marriage was annulled on February 7, 1995, due to Aaliyah's status as a minor (she was 15 years old while Kelly was in his mid 20s). The next year, Kelly married Andrea Lee, a former back-up dancer, and they have two daughters (Jaya and Joann) and one son (Robert Jr).
On September 2, 2005, Andrea sought a restraining order against Kelly claiming she was physically and verbally assaulted by Kelly on two occasions, but later repealed her request on September 26.
Trapped In The Closet
"Well, it started out as me and my boys just messing around performing on the streets. Then, one of the fellows dropped a hat while I was playing this keyboard and people started putting money in it. That became our thing. I simply made a regular job out of it." R. Kelly
R. Kelly was inspired to become a singer by his high school music teacher-mentor Lena McLin and he began to sing on street corners. He started off his career as the front man of an R&B group called Public Announcement and released his debut single, "Why You Wanna Play Me," with the group on Tavdash Records in 1990.
In 1991, Kelly met Barry Hankerson, who became his full time manager, replacing David Hyatt, who was sentenced to life in prison for a drug case. That same year, Kelly was introduced to Aaliyah. He also collaborated with his then-group Public Announcement recorded album Born Into the '90s under Jive records. The album, which featured songs like "She's Got that Vibe," "Slow Dance," "Dedicated" and "Honey Love," was later released after Kelly's 25th birthday. It was a massive R&B success and eventually went Platinum, selling over a million copies.
Kelly marked his solo career with the release of his first solo album, 12 Play, in the fall of 1993. The album entered the top 40 singles with the sexually-charged bedroom anthems "Sex Me (Pt. 1)," "Bump & Grind" and "Your Body's Callin'." Meanwhile, in 1994, he completed Aaliyah's debut album, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, which went platinum on the strength of singles like "Back and Forth" and "At Your Best."
On November 14, 1995, Kelly made his second solo effort by releasing a self-titled album. It spawned hit singles such as "You Remind Me of Something," "I Can't Sleep (Baby If I)" and his collaboration with legendary R&B singer Ronald Isley of the famed Isley Brothers, "Down Low." The album sold over 5 million copies and brought Kelly into mega-star status in the R&B scene. Meanwhile, as a songwriter, Kelly also scored a huge success. He has written hits for pop and R&B music stars Janet Jackson (producing the remix for Jackson's 1994 smash "Any Time, Any Place") and Michael Jackson (writing and co-producing the single "You Are Not Alone" for Jackson's HIStory album in 1995).
1996 saw Kelly release his most successful single up to that time; the theme song from the Michael Jordan movie Space Jam, "I Believe I Can Fly." The song topped at #2 on U.S. charts and helped Kelly win three Grammy Awards, as well as a nomination for the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories.
After two years of hiatus, Kelly returned with the ambitious double concept album, R. It featured a hit duet with multi-platinum international songstress Celine Dion, "I'm Your Angel," which became Kelly's second #1 single on the Billboard pop singles chart. It also produced hits like "When A Woman's Fed Up" and "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time." Released on September 29, 1998, R. would go on to be his best-selling record to date, selling over 8 million copies in the U.S. alone.
In the new millennium, Kelly released TP-2.com, the "sequel" to his steamy, "12 Play." It featured the tribute song "I Wish," the party anthem "Fiesta" (the remix version featured rapper Jay-Z) and the risqué "Feelin' On Your Booty." TP-2.com has since been certified five times platinum since its release. Two years later, Kelly made a collaborative album with Jay-Z, The Best of Both Worlds. Released on May 15, 2002, the album debuted at #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart. However, no music videos were shot for the album and the album was a commercial disappointment for both musicians.
After Kelly went through a year of controversy for allegations of child pornography, he released the album Chocolate Factory in 2003. It spawned the hit singles "Ignition (Remix)," which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Snake" (featuring Big Tigger) and the 1970s-inspired "Stepper's Anthem," "Step in the Name of Love." Chocolate Factory topped at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and has since gone on to sell over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone.
During his controversy, Kelly also produced the #1 hit "Bump, Bump, Bump" for the now-defunct boy band B2K and nearly produced the entire Body Kiss, an album by frequent collaborators The Isley Brothers, which was the group's first album to debut at #1.
In 2004, Kelly released a double album, Happy People/U Saved Me, a mix of feel-good danceable soul records (Happy People) and gospel anthems (U Saved Me). The album peaked at #2 on the pop album charts and eventually nabbed three times platinum certification. That same year, Kelly also re-teamed with Jay-Z, recording the second collaboration LP Unfinished Business. The album, which included eleven previously unreleased tracks by the duo, debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard albums chart.
On July 5, 2005, Kelly released his latest album, TP-3: Reloaded, which features the five part song/video "Trapped in the Closet." He was recently on his own solo tour titled, "Mr. Show Biz presents: The Light It Up Tour."
"My mama always told me that the higher you go, you're going to pay a price. And you've got to believe that God's got your back." R. Kelly
- Billboard's R'n'B/Hip-Hop: Top Artist; Songwriter; Producer; Singles Artist; Male Artist; Singles; Singles Airplay, for “Step in the Name of Love,” 2004
- Grammy: Best R&B Song, "I Believe I Can Fly," 1998
- Grammy: Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, "I Believe I Can Fly," 1998
- Grammy: Best Original Song from A Soundtrack, "I Believe I Can Fly," 1998