R Kelly dropped from Ohio music festival following backlash

Singer agreed to back out after local protests about his past

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The Independent Culture

Controversial singer R Kelly has been dropped from the line-up of a music festival in Ohio, following an outcry about his past that include allegations of possessing images of child abuse.

The "Ignition" singer was due to perform at the Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus on 29 August but both he and the festival organisers released statements to Columbus Alive on Tuesday night to announce his departure.

A statement from the festival read: “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.”

The publicist for Kelly said: “R Kelly is sorry to disappoint his fans, but looks forward to seeing them in the near future during one of his upcoming tours.”

Although the decision is described as “mutual”, it comes after a backlash over Kelly’s planned attendance at the event.

Folk rock band Saintseneca, who were also due to perform, wrote on their website that they were withdrawing from the concert because “we feel [Kelly’s] selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault”.

Local radio station WCBE 90.5 FM also backed out. General manager Dan Mushalko said that the decision was influenced both by the opinions of listeners and those of Columbus City Schools, who hold their license.

“Obviously, since they represent children and they represent teenagers, they didn’t want us associated with the event if R. Kelly was a part of it,” Mushalko said.

“So whether you looked at it from our internal ethics, or the feedback from our listeners and the school district, it came down to everything saying, ‘You just can’t do it.’”

Other acts refused to perform alongside R Kelly

Festival organisers made the decision to drop Kelly on 25 July, according to Columbus Alive.

Communications director Melissa Dickson told the publication: “The festival has taken a lot of heat, and we really just wanted to listen to Columbus and really take a stance and move forward.”

The festival reportedly has no plans to replace Kelly.

Kelly was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.

He caused controversy earlier this year when footage emerged of Lady Gaga's scrapped video “Do What You Want”, which features a scene in which Kelly, who plays Gaga’s predatory doctor, tells the singer: “I’m putting you under, and when you wake up, you’re going to be pregnant.”

The video was criticised for appearing to condone rape.