5 Jan 2019

Jay-Z, Lady Gaga rejected R Kelly documentary interviews - producer

2:20 pm on 5 January 2019

Jay-Z and Lady Gaga are among the stars who allegedly declined to appear in a documentary series about R Kelly, the producer has said.

 R. Kelly performs during The Buffet Tour at Allstate Arena on May 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

R&B singer R Kelly in 2016. Photo: AFP / Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images

Surviving R Kelly, which premiered in the US on Thursday, explores decades of sexual abuse allegations brought against the artist, all of which he denies.

John Legend was one of the only musicians who agreed to be interviewed.

In December 2018, the New York screening of the series was evacuated, with individuals stating they received "a threatening phone call".

'Messy and muddy'

The show's producer Dream Hampton said it was "incredibly difficult" to get celebrities who had collaborated with Kelly to come forward.

"We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked Jay-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle. [They're] people who have been critical of him," she told the Detroit Free Press.

But Hampton doesn't believe it's because they support him or his actions.

"It's because it's so messy and muddy. It's that turning away that has allowed this to go on," she told African diaspora movie news website Shadow and Act.

John Legend is one of the only major musicians involved in the docuseries made by Lifetime - he appears in the final episode which airs on Saturday.

John Legend attends the The Art Of Elysium's 11th Annual Celebration - Heaven on January 6, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.

John Legend is one of the few musicians who agreed to appear on the R Kelly documentary. Photo: FPA / Full Picture Agency via AFP

"R Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people," he said.

The 'All Of Me' singer has been praised for his participation, with Hampton calling him a "hero", a title which he rejects.

"To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all," he wrote.

Despite being one of the most successful R&B artists in history, Kelly's career has been plagued by accusations of sexual misconduct since the 1990s.

The new documentary details the relationship in 1994 between the late singer Aaliyah and Kelly, who married him when she was 15 and he was 27.

Vibe magazine later discovered that Aaliyah had lied on the wedding certificate about her age, listing herself as 18. The marriage was annulled in February 1995.

The late pop star's mother, Diane Houghton recently released a statement calling comments made by one of the documentary's interviewees "lies and fabrications."

"My husband and I were always on tour with [Aaliyah] and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career," she wrote.

"Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now," Ms Houghton added.

The series also includes the singer's second ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who also made abuse allegations.

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke, R Kelly's brothers and more than 50 other women also gave interviews in the documentary.

Hampton told the Detroit Free Press the women were "survivors" and praised them for their bravery.

"I admire them so much and have all the respect in the world for them," she added.

In July 2018, R Kelly released a 19-minute song called 'I Admit', which responded to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

The track, posted on the R&B star's SoundCloud page on Monday, admitted to infidelity but denied allegations of paedophilia and non-consensual sex.

The track came after a BBC Three investigation that sparked the #MuteRKelly campaign to limit his air-play.

Representatives for Lady Gaga, Erykah Badu, Celine Dion, Jay-Z and Dave Chappelle have been contacted for comment.

- BBC