R. Kelly‘s eldest daughter has claimed in a new interview that her father’s reputation as a serial sex offender cost her a record deal.
Joann Kelly, who performs under the moniker Buku Abi, briefly appeared alongside her mother, Drea Kelly, on Atlanta’s radio station Majic 107.5 on Friday (August 26).
The show’s hosts began by asking Joann whether her music career had either stalled or flourished because of her father’s name. The 24-year-old said it was both.
“For me the experience has been, ‘You’re only getting this because of who your parents are,’ and then, ‘You’re not getting this because of who your parents are,’” Joann said around the 21-minute mark below.
“Absolutely,” Joann said. “Simply based off of my last name. I think for me especially ’cause a lot of people don’t know, music is my first passion. I love music. I’m a singer, songwriter, I love music, and I been doing music since I was 13 years old.”
She continued: “That’s the first time I ever wrote a song was at 13, and from 13 up until 24 I’ve been trying to get into the music business. Trying to get into the industry and all those years it’s either been you’re getting it because of who your dad is or you not getting it because of who your dad is.
“I’ve been this close to a record deal and when they found out who I was it got swiped away…the paperwork was drawn up and everything. Flew out to L.A., and everything. [Somebody] found out who I was, and that was it.”
When asked how many times that’s happened, she said: “A good amount.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Joann praised the resilience of her mother, who she called an inspiration for being able to work through the baggage and harassment that came with being married to R. Kelly.
“I would say the one thing that I’m most proud of her about would probably be her ability to get up and try to be a better person every day,” Joann said as Drea began to tear up. “Because she’s been through a lot and I’ve had to watch her go through a lot and as her oldest child it’s hard, and I think more than anything that’s what’s affected me the most.”
Joann’s father –who is already serving a 30-year sentence in New York after being convicted on nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking charges back in 2021 –is currently on trial again in his hometown of Chicago.
R. Kelly is being charged with multiple felonies there, including child pornography and obstruction of justice. The trial is already off to a rocky start for the disgraced singer, as a federal judge recently rejected his request to ban jurors who’ve seen Surviving R. Kelly from his trial.
According to NBC News, Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean told U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber for the Northern District of Illinois: “It would be impossible for anyone who saw any part of the series to separate what they saw on TV and in the courtroom.”
Judge Leinenweber disagreed, saying it wouldn’t “make sense” to prohibit someone from serving if they’d seen only seen a portion of the series, adding that it aired years ago.