One of the biggest news cases across all platforms recently was the case of Robert Sylvester Kelly, known by his stage name, R. Kelly. R. Kelly, who was one of the biggest names in R&B music at one time, was found guilty of nine counts including sexual exploitation of a child, bribery and sex trafficking. As R. Kelly awaits sentencing on May 4, he could face 10 years to life in prison.
With the recent attention to this case, it begs the question: can R. Kelly’s unspeakable actions be forgiven just because he made music that a lot of people love? There’s no simple answer, but it’s hard to imagine supporting an artist who has done such unimaginable things. People may say that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between listening to his music and liking him as a person, but there is. Even if you don’t like him as a person, you still support him by putting money in his pocket every time you listen to one of his songs.
Sadly, R. Kelly isn’t the only example of an artist who’s done terrible things but still gets support from people. Elvis Presley is another notable artist who committed questionable acts. Nicknamed the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Presley had multiple relationships with underage girls – three of whom were 14 when he met them. Presley began a relationship with his only wife, Priscilla, when she was 14 and he was 24. In her memoir, “Elvis and Me,” Priscilla explains how intimate their first meeting was despite her childhood. It was frowned upon then and certainly would be today. While these are just two examples of many artists who have allegedly committed wrongdoing, many others – from Michael Jackson to Dr. Seuss to Pablo Picasso – have also been linked to this violence.
It’s almost impossible to separate an artist from their music because art is personal. Most artists draw on their personal experiences; that’s what makes it art. Iranian-Dutch artist Sevdaliza has written about the relationship between an artist and his art and his reflection of life. It perfectly encompasses how there is an electrical connection between art and artist.
We understand that if we stopped supporting all the artists who made bad decisions, we wouldn’t be able to listen to much of the music we make now. However, there is a difference between someone who comes from a bad past, turns their life around and makes great music and someone who has continuously done untold things without remorse or acknowledgment of wrongdoing. People grow and change, and we recognize that, but sometimes it’s obvious that they have no intention of growing.
We can’t tell you who or what to listen to, but just know that the next time you put on songs like “Ignition (Remix)” or “I Believe I Can Fly,” you’re putting money in your pocket. a sex trafficker. .