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R. Kelly was born as Robert Sylvester Kelly on January 8, 1967 and was raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Kelly has four other siblings and is the second youngest. A single mother raised Kelly and his father was absent most of his life. His mother, Joan, was also a singer. Kelly discovered his voice by the age of eight when he started singing in church. When Kelly attended Kenwood Academy in the fall of 1980 he met his first motivation into pursuing music, his music teacher Lena McLin who encouraged him to perform in the high school talent show.
After that, Kelly began performing under Chicago ‘L’ trains and eventually collaborated with friend Marc McWilliams to form their own singing group. The group, MGM, was also known as Musically Gifted Men. In 1991, Kelly performed on the show Big Break and won 100,000 dollars as his grand prize.
Eventually known as R. Kelly and Public Announcement, in 1992 they debuted Born into the 90s. Numerous songs on that album became hits, such as “She’s Got That Vibe”, “Honey Love”, and “Slow Dance”. Eventually, they went on their own tour called 60653. Unfortunately, Public Announcement and Kelly separated in January 1993.
It was time for Kelly to venture off into his own solo career. Not wasting any time, his first solo album, 12 Play, was released on November 9, 1993 and his first hit, “Bump N’ Grind”, topped charts, spending twelve weeks at number one. After his success with his first album, he started producing and writing songs for various artists. Aaliyah become his protégé and released her first album Age Aint Nothing But a Number, which was written by Kelly.
By 1995, Kelly received his first two Grammy nominations for writing and producing Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone”. Continuing to reach the top, he released his second album, R. Kelly. Instead of talking about sex, like his in previous album, he decided to go with a different approach by making the album more vulnerable. The album reached #1 on Billboard 200 chart and gained three platinum singles. In 1996, he was featured on the cover of Ebony Magazine, being named the “new king of R&B”, and later released “I Believe I Can Fly”.
During the 2000s Kelly had released numerous albums and performed on many stages. In 2001, he discussed collaborating with Jay-Z; they released Best of Both Worlds in March, selling poorly but reaching #2 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart. In 2003, Chocolate Factory was released with hit singles such as “Snake” and “Step in the Name of Love”. In 2005, his famous “Trapped in the Closet” was released as well as his seventh studio album, Reloaded.
In 2011, Kelly was rushed to the hospital to undergo throat surgery to drain an abscess on one of his tonsils. Later after recovering, it was established that Kelly would write for Sparkle the movie. Most recently, Kelly told fans on a radio interview that he hopes to release a follow-up to the Love Letter album. On February 1, 2012, he released his first singles, “Share My Love” and “Feeling Single”; the album will be released June 26. On March 20th, Kelly said that Trapped in the Closet will be coming out very soon.