AKA Robert Sylvester Kelly
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Trapped In The Closet
Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Robert Kelly received the impetus to pursue a career as a singer from his high school music teacher, effectively keeping him from falling into a gang lifestyle. While still in school he participated in talent competitions, and after graduation made a reasonable living as a street performer, despite regular occurrences of police harassment. One such performance at a friend's party attracted the attention of Jive records, and a contract was secured with the label shortly afterwards. With his band Public Announcement, Kelly immediately earned a large audience -- their 1992 debut release Born Into The 90s rose to #3 in the R&B charts, spawning four successful singles and quickly achieving platinum status.
In 1993 Kelly followed up with the solo release 12 Play, and with it managed to surpass the accomplishments of his work with Public Announcement. The overtly sexual content of the songs Sex Me, Pts. I & II, Bump n' Grind, and Your Body's Callin' carried them high into both the pop and R&B charts, and delivered the singer yet another platinum release in his catalogue. Such popularity created a big demand for Kelly's services as a producer and collaborator, and work for Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross and Mary J. Blige was undertaken over the next couple years. His most successful venture as a producer during this time -- as well as the first big scandal of his career -- was earned through his work for teen singer Aaliyah, whose debut Age Ain't Nothing but a Number hit the charts in 1994. By the end of the year, however, rumors of a romantic link (and short-lived marriage) between the two were circulating in the press, bringing their collaboration to a permanent end.
With his 1995 eponymous solo effort, Kelly began to tone down the explicit nature of his songs; the change did not impact his selling power in the least, however, and the record continued the trend he had established for platinum sales. The next two years saw him top the charts with contributions to soundtracks, starting with I Believe I Can Fly from the partially animated basketball film Space Jam in 1996, and continuing with Gotham City from the impressively lousy addition to the Batman franchise Batman and Robin in 1997. A duet with Puff Daddy also filled in the time before his third solo release, the double disc set R (1998), which featured guests such as Celine Dion, Foxy Brown and Jay-Z.
Over the course of 2000 and 2001 Kelly was riding high with yet another platinum album (TP-2) and three more popular soundtrack-related singles (for Shaft, The Nutty Professor 2, and Ali); but with the arrival of 2002, the singer became embroiled in a scandal surrounding alleged sexual relations with minors. A videotape of one of these incidents was delivered to police by a former Kelly protégé, and a serious backlash resulted, effectively marginalizing the success of his full-length collaboration with Jay-Z, Best of Both Worlds, released later that year. An indictment for 21 separate counts of child pornography was handed down shortly afterwards; it took six and a half years for him to be tried, but in the end Kelly was acquitted on all counts. Despite the scandal, his music career is apparently not at risk, as was clearly demonstrated by the response to 2003's Chocolate Factory, which, typically, topped the charts and was certified platinum in short order. TP-3 Reloaded followed in 2005, including the single Trapped in the Closet, a 12-part hip-hop "opera" which took Kelly's penchant for sexual convolutions to new degrees of self-parody.
Mother: Joanne Kelly (d. 1993)
Brother: Carey Kelly
Wife: Aaliyah (m. 1994, annulled that same year)
Wife: Andrea Lee (m. 1996, div. 8-Jan-2009)
High School: Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago, IL
Endorsement of Reebok 2002
Grammy Best Song Written Specifically For A Motion Picture Or For Television (1997)
Grammy Best Rhythm & Blues Song (1997)
Grammy Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (1997)
Statutory Rape indicted 2002, acquitted 2008
Child Pornography indicted 2002, acquitted 2008
Disorderly Conduct Chicago, IL 1998, charges dropped
Sex Tape Scandal
Surgery Throat (20-Jul-2011)
Risk Factors: Appendicitis
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Fade to Black (5-Nov-2004) · Himself
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