R. Kelly is still singing, but in the #MeToo era his voice is getting more and more muffled. As the R&B singer prepares for a scheduled concert Friday night in North Carolina amid persistent allegations of sexual misconduct, his career is under siege on multiple fronts.
Streaming service Spotify is removing Kelly’s music from all its playlists and algorithmic recommendations, such as Discover Weekly. His songs will remain on Spotify, but the service will no longer promote them to its 70 million subscribers.
“We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values,” Spotify said in a statement Thursday. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
Protesters are trying to get his Greensboro, North Carolina, show canceled. Nine local groups sent a letter this week to the Greensboro Coliseum, urging promoters to “do the right thing” and cancel the show. The effort comes a week after a scheduled concert by Kelly in Chicago was canceled — something Kelly himself blamed on “rumors” in a video he posted on social media. A handful of North Carolina groups have vowed to protest the Greensboro show in person if it’s not canceled. A spokesman for the Greensboro Coliseum declined to comment.
A growing chorus of celebrities are urging the entertainment industry to cut ties with him. They include singer John Legend, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, actress Viola Davis and rapper Vince Staples. There’s even a hashtag, #MuteRKelly, around the informal online movement. Through it all, Kelly remains defiant. But how much longer can his career survive?