Surviving R Kelly: Lady Gaga and Jay-Z turned down interviews for documentary about controversial singer, producer claims

Dream Hampton claims it is 'turning away that has allowed this to go on'

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Friday 04 January 2019 12:10 GMT
Alleged R Kelly victims go on Today show: 'you would address him as 'Daddy' or get slapped'

The series producer of the new documentary Surviving R Kelly has claimed that a number of high profile celebrities turned down requests to appear in it.

The series on Lifetime premiered in the US on 3 January and addresses a number of allegations that Kelly sexually abused women and underage girls.

Kelly has consistently and vehemently denied the allegations against him throughout his career. In 2018, he released the song “I Admit” where he admitted to infidelity but denied all allegations of paedophilia, sexual abuse and non-consensual sex.

Among the 50 interviewees for Surviving R Kelly are Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, and his former girlfriend Kitti Jones. Singer John Legend and R&B artist Sparkle also appear – Legend commented after the episode aired: “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all. I believe these women and don’t give a f*** about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”

According to executive producer Dream Hampton, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle and Erykah Badu – all of whom have collaborated with R Kelly – declined to be interviewed, as did Questlove, Mary J Blige and Lil Kim.

“Most people just don’t want touch it,” Hampton said. “It’s not because they support him [Kelly], it’s because it’s so messy and muddy. It’s that turning away that has allowed this to go on."

In a since-deleted tweet reported by Pitchfork, Questlove apparently responded: “I always thought Kels was trash. My reason for declining the RKelly docu that I support 10000000 per cent is I didn’t wanna be in the ‘good times’ portion of the doc, like stanning for his ‘genius’. I was asked to talk about his genius. I do not nor have I EVER stanned for him.”

The Independent has contacted representatives for Jay Z, Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, Lil Kim and Mary J Blige for comment.

One of the most talked-about moments of the documentary series so far was an interview with one of Kelly’s former backup singers, Jovante Cunningham, who claims she witnessed a number of his sexual encounters with underaged girls in the Nineties, including with the singer Aaliyah.

Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

However, Aaliyah’s mother Diane Haughton has since refuted the claim, branding Cunningham a “liar” in a public statement.

“My husband and I were always on tour with her and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career,” she said. “Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now.”

Haughton did not address the reports that Kelly and Aaliyah were married in 1994 with falsified records that claimed she was 18 (she was 15 at the time).

In a statement to People, Cunningham refuted Haughton’s insistence that the incident did not occur. “It’s unfortunate that there are still people trying to protect Robert when they know he has destroyed so many people’s lives,” she said.

“I loved Aaliyah and when people watch the documentary, they will see how much I cared for her and how much Robert’s actions deeply affected me and so many others.”

In the first episode of the documentary, Kelly’s former personal assistant Demetrius Smith said he was in the room when the pair allegedly got married.

“I’m not proud of that,” he said. “I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underaged. It was just a quick little ceremony. She didn’t have on a white dress. He didn’t have on a tux. Just everyday wear. She looked worried and scared.”

Smith claimed their marriage was annulled within a year: “Her parents had the last say,” he said.

TMZ reports that Kelly is planning to sue Lifetime over the allegations made in the documentary over the six-part series.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in