Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 17:23 UK

R Kelly: Successes and scandals

R&B star R Kelly is back in the spotlight as his long-running child pornography case finally comes to trial.

R Kelly
R Kelly won three Grammy awards for I Believe I Can Fly

The singer is a triple-Grammy award-winner who has scored massive hits with I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition (Remix).

He has also topped the charts with such raunchy numbers as Bump 'n' Grind and Your Body's Callin'.

In the 1990s he made more appearances on the US Billboard Top 40 than any other male artist.

As a producer, meanwhile, his collaborators include Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Britney Spears.

Born Robert Sylvester Kelly in Chicago, Illinois, on 5 January 1967, the singer grew up in the public housing estates, or projects, on the city's south side.

Kelly was shot by a mugger when he was 13 years old. Otherwise, though, he managed to steer clear of gangs.

At school he was encouraged to put his energy into music and won a talent concert singing Stevie Wonder's Ribbon in the Sky.

In 1990 he was spotted singing at a friend's barbecue by an employee of Jive Records and was signed to the label soon after.


Two years later Kelly and his then-group Public Announcement released their debut album, Born Into the '90s.

The record spawned several hit singles including She's Got that Vibe, Slow Dance and Honey Love.

Kelly reportedly married Aaliyah when she was 15 years old

But it also established the singer's persona as a sex-obsessed soul lothario - an image some say has come back to haunt him.

His first brush with controversy came in 1995 when he reportedly married his protege, R&B singer Aaliyah, when she was just 15 years old.

US hip-hop magazine Vibe subsequently printed a document purporting to be the couple's marriage certificate, in which Aaliyah's age was falsely listed as 18.

The "marriage" was later said to have been annulled by her parents. By then, of course, the incident had made Kelly's personal life headline news.

A more conventional wedding followed in 1996 when Kelly tied the knot with 22-year-old Andrea Lee, a dancer from his touring group.

The couple are still together and have three children. Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in 2001.


In the same year, Kelly scored the biggest hit of his career with the torch ballad I Believe I Can Fly.

Bizarrely perhaps, the song was the theme tune to critically panned Bugs Bunny basketball film Space Jam.

However, the uplifting anthem to self-confidence still went on to win three Grammy awards.

Its success raised his profile enormously, leading him to record two solo albums and a collaboration with rapper Jay-Z.

R Kelly
If people out there have a tape of me and they say it's of me and a young girl, then they're sadly mistaken or they're lying
R Kelly
It was not long, however, before the singer once again became embroiled in controversy.

In February 2002, a videotape emerged which allegedly showed the star urinating on a teenage girl. His local paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, sent it to the police.

Kelly was charged four months later with 21 counts relating to child pornography and released on $750,000 (383,000) bail.

It subsequently came to light Kelly had previously reached an out-of-court settlement in a similar case.

Here, though, he firmly protested his innocence, telling TV station BET: "If people out there have a tape of me and they say it's of me and a young girl, then they're sadly mistaken or they're lying."

He later made a public statement saying none of the charges were warranted and the truth would be established in court.

Kelly was arrested again in 2003 after a police search at his home allegedly found photos of him engaging in a lewd act with an underage girl.


The charges were later dropped after it was ruled the pictures were found with an improperly issued search warrant.

Despite the negative press, Kelly's sixth album, Chocolate Factory, sold more than three million copies in the US.

It also gave him a number one single, Ignition (Remix), in the UK.

R Kelly
Ignition (Remix) was a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic

A year later, Kelly teamed up with Jay-Z again for an album, Unfinished Business, and a tour.

The singer had to ask for permission to leave his home state for the concerts and was required to check in with state officials every day he was outside Illinois.

The two stars clashed and Kelly was eventually thrown off the tour. But he bounced back in 2005 with the album TP-3: Reloaded.

The record did not produce a pop hit. However, it did contain the self-styled "hip-hopera" Trapped in the Closet.

Kelly has now recorded 22 "chapters" of the song, whose tangled plot includes a gay pastor, a woman with an allergy to cherries and a well-endowed midget.

Meanwhile, the child pornography case rumbled on, and on, and on.

After several delays it was eventually set to begin on 7 February 2007... only to be put on hold again after Kelly burst his appendix and the judge broke his shoulder.

Jury selection was due to start on Friday and Kelly plans to plead not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

R Kelly arrives at porn hearing
09 May 08 |  Entertainment
R&B star sues over R Kelly tour
04 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Date set for R Kelly porn trial
02 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
R Kelly out on $750,000 bail
07 Jun 02 |  Entertainment
R Kelly charged over child porn
06 Jun 02 |  Entertainment
Third underage sex case for R Kelly
30 Apr 02 |  Entertainment

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