July 29, 2014


Protests Force R. Kelly Out of Ohio Music Festival

Earl Gibson III
Earl Gibson III

R. Kelly is a busy guy: He's recording a house album, he wrote a super sexy song with Jennifer Hudson and there's that whole Lady Gaga controversy. The drama, it seems, doesn't end there. The R&B crooner has been removed from a scheduled headlining slot at Columbus, Ohio's Fashion Meets Music Festival, a "mutual decision" between both Kelly and the event's organizers.

Kelly was slated to perform on the opening night of the three-day affair. After his spot on the lineup was announced, two bands, Damn the Witch Siren and Saintseneca, dropped off the bill, citing the controversy surrounding Kelly's 2002 child pornography charges, of which he was later acquitted. 

"We were disappointed that the artist selected to headline the festival was R. Kelly," Saintseneca posted on their website. "We feel his selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault. We feel it is an affront to all survivors, who are already often overlooked and forgotten in our society. As a result, we’ve decided to withdraw from the festival. This is in no way meant to be a direct attack on the festival or its organizers; in fact, we genuinely appreciate their hard work and their commitment to bringing something new and exciting to our hometown. It is just that being so closely associated with this artist, especially here in our own hometown, is something we are not comfortable with."

In addition to Damn the Witch Siren and Saintseneca, local radio station WCBE 90.5 5M withdrew from Fashion Meets Music as a sponsor.

Following the backlash, which included concerns from bands, media partners and potential patrons, the festival and Kelly released a joint statement announcing his departure from the event: “Fashion Meets Music Festival and headlining artist R. Kelly have come to the mutual decision to cancel Kelly's upcoming performance at the inaugural Fashion Meets Music Festival.” 

Kelly's publicist then followed-up with a more personal message regarding the matter: "R. Kelly is sorry to disappoint his fans but looks forward to seeing them in the near future during one of his upcoming tours."

Fashion Meets Music will take place in Columbus on August 29-31.