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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.Kelly performance canceled after protests surrounding those "cult" allegations

Illustration for article titled R.Kelly performance canceled after protests surrounding those cult allegationsem/em
Photo: Scott Legato (Getty Images)

Nine months after canceling his latest tour—ostensibly for low ticket sales, but more realistically because Buzzfeed News ran an extensive, damning investigation into allegations that he operates a “cult” of young women whose personal and sexual lives he aggressively controls—R&B singer R. Kelly has had another performance shut down. Kelly’s May 5 concert at his hometown’s University Of Illinois At Chicago has now apparently been shuttered, after 1,300 students, staff, and members of the public signed a petition asking for his performance to be canceled.

Per The Chicago Tribune, Kelly was initially scheduled to perform alongside Xscap3, K. Michelle, and Lyfe Jennings at Love Jam 2018 next week; however, a note on Ticketmaster’s web site now reads, “R. Kelly is no longer performing.” When the Tribune reached out to Kelly’s representation, though, they apparently denied the cancellation, stating via email that, “We have received no official notice of any changes in plans for the May 5 concert, and R. Kelly has been looking forward to performing for his fans in his hometown.” 

According to that same Trib piece, UIC leadership has been cagey about questions about the cancellation, with the school’s chancellor’s office declining to comment when asked. Natalie Bennett, director of UIC’s Women’s Leadership And Resource Center, posted an open letter to the center’s Facebook page earlier this week, urging the chancellor to cancel the performance.


Kelly, 51, was accused in the Buzzfeed piece of manipulating multiple young women, often in their late teens, into cutting all ties with families and friends and acquiescing to his various “rules.” These allegedly include strict controls on diet and appearance, punishments for talking to other men, and being forced to only use a cellphone provided to them by Kelly himself.

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