Time's Up movement calls for boycott of R. Kelly

Singer R. Kelly performs during the Pre-Grammy Gala and Salute to Industry Icons in Beverly Hills in 2011. The R&B star has faced repeated allegations of mistreatment of underage girls and young women.
Singer R. Kelly performs during the Pre-Grammy Gala and Salute to Industry Icons in Beverly Hills in 2011. The R&B star has faced repeated allegations of mistreatment of underage girls and young women.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • It is time to clip the wings of the I Believe I Can Fly singer.

On Monday, the Time's Up movement for gender equality - flying high after the sexual assault conviction of Bill Cosby - urged the music business to dump R&B star R. Kelly.

The singer - whose smooth voice has generated years of hits - has faced repeated allegations of mistreatment of underage girls and young women.

Calling the conviction last week of comedian Cosby "just a start", the Women of Colour division of Time's Up urged "people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behaviour".

Backing a social-media campaign dubbed #MuteRKelly, the women's movement urged the singer's record label as well as streaming services Spotify and Apple Music to drop him.

It also called on the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina to cancel his concert scheduled on May 11.

"We demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly's abuse made by women of colour and their families for over two decades now," the Women of Colour of Time's Up said in a statement.

"And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us - their time is up."

The singer has already been removed from the line-up of a concert on Saturday at the University of Illinois at Chicago after a petition campaign.

Responding on Instagram on Sunday, Kelly - a Chicago native who partially lives in the Trump Tower in the Midwestern metropolis - apologised to fans for not performing.

"I never heard of a show being cancelled because of rumours. But I guess there's a first time for everything," he said in a video.

Kelly, 51, was acquitted in 2008 of charges of child pornography after the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a video that allegedly showed him engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl.

Last month, a woman filed a complaint with police in Dallas alleging that he knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease during a relationship that began when she was 19.

Last year, BuzzFeed News reported that Kelly was holding six women in virtual slavery with power over their clothing choices, diet and sexual encounters, which he would allegedly record.

The musician has denied all the allegations against him.

Last year, he said he was "alarmed and disturbed" by the report of his purported sex cult.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2018, with the headline 'Time's Up movement calls for boycott of R. Kelly'. Print Edition | Subscribe