Embattled music artist R. Kelly’s case against the courts has continued to play out in one headline-grabbing moment after another. After being followed by sordid allegations of sexual abuse against young girls, Kelly is facing multiple federal charges related to more complaints that he solicited minors for illegal sexual activity. He is currently being held in a Chicago jail.
For Kelly’s alleged victims, it’s their moment of reckoning after years of being silenced.
But for Buku Abi, born Joann Kelly, living under her father's name made her life a living hell, as she explained in a new feature story.
“I think you get to see a different side of it than somebody who sees it from the outside and gets to see the glitz and glam. I got to see the hell part of it,” the 21-year-old told the Associated Press in a recent interview. Abi opened up about the moment she first heard about the rumors that followed in her father’s wake.
She learned about the “not so good” side of her father through the grapevine at school.
The hardest truth she had to face was reconciling the image she had of her father in her mind with what she learned about him at school.
“At home it’s normal, you’re living a life with your parents; your dad and mom aren’t going to go into all the bad things that might be going on outside of home,” she said, “but kids in school don’t necessarily care,” she said. “Fifth and sixth grade is when I started learning the sore part of it, the not so good part. I think that was the hardest part for me because for so long I went with this image of who my dad (was) and what my family (was).”
The social torment hit such a deep low that Abi considered taking her own life at one point, until she found her saving grace in music. Up until that point, she had avoided music due to the hang-ups she had surrounding her father. But once she stepped foot on stage, she immediately felt a deep connection to music that gave her a high she had never felt before.
“Ever since then, I’ve been in it and it’s literally saved my life,” she said.
Forging her own path in the industry hasn’t been an easy task for Abi, who said being R. Kelly’s daughter oftentimes is a “double-edged sword." It's also why she performs under a moniker. Coincidentally, music is the only instance she's ever been on the same page as her father.
“There’s a lot about him as an artist that inspires me,” she told AP.
Kelly's name has been her cross to bear as she makes her foray into the music where she said that she has faced some scrutiny based on other people’s preconceived notions about her due to her family situation. This, despite revealing that she "[doesn't] have a relationship" nor maintain contact with her father.
“I definitely run across challenges — people wanting to work with me to spite him or people not wanting to work with me just because of who he is. I’ve definitely come across turmoil...being judged for really no reason at all, just based off associations."
Still, Abi isn’t deterred from her path.
“I’ve been pushing through it. Me making the art, it saved my life, so there’s nothing really that would be able to stop me.”
Read the rest of the interview here.