R. Kelly Dropped from Music Festival After Complaints
By Joseph Erbentraut
An Ohio music festival has found itself in a difficult position on the heels of its booking of controversial R&B singer R. Kelly as one of its headliners.
The Fashion Meets Music Festival, slated for Aug. 29-31 in Columbus, Ohio, has run into a number of troubles since they announced that Kelly would be playing their inaugural fest alongside jam band O.A.R. and Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams, among others.
Earlier, two Ohio-based bands — Damn the Witch Siren and Saintseneca — have dropped out of the lineup since Kelly’s booking was made public and Sunday Columbus Alive reported that radio station WCBE 90.5 FM has withdrawn from sponsoring the festival, also due to Kelly’s previous addition to the lineup.
As WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis notes, ticket sales for the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s previously-scheduled performance at the festival — which started at $58.50 plus fees — also appeared to be selling very slowly.
The pushback stemmed from Kelly’s past allegations of child pornography and sexual assault, a story DeRogatis helped break and Jessica Hopper detailed in a viral news story for the Village Voice in December 2013.
On Monday, July 28, the festival announced they had “decided to part ways” with Kelly and canceled his concert.
In a statement shared with HuffPost by the festival, a Kelly spokesperson 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.”
In response to the criticism, Fashion Meets Music Festival co-founder Bret Adams had previously defended the booking to Columbus Alive, noting that Kelly was acquitted of the allegations in 2008, saying, “we’re not the morality police.”
Kelly also headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago last year, a booking DeRogatis lashed out against but which was not met by any bands or sponsors dropping out from the event.