John Legend Speaks Out Against R. Kelly in New Documentary About Alleged Abuse
"R. Kelly has brought a lot of pain to a lot of people," John Legend claims in an interview for Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly documentary
Set to premiere tonight at 9 p.m., the shocking 6-part docuseries features wide-ranging interviews with R. Kelly’s family members, former friends and colleagues, but most notably, women who claim that for decades the hit-making singer and producer used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse women and young girls.
“R. Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people,” Legend, 40, says during an interview for the documentary. Legend has openly supported women’s right’s organization Time’s Up and the #MuteRKelly boycott.
Representatives for R. Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, responded “no comment” to PEOPLE’s request for a response to the allegations made in Surviving R. Kelly and interviews with alleged victims in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands now. According to TMZ, Kelly’s lawyer Brian Nix has threatened to sue Lifetime network if it airs the documentary.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the network says “Lifetime has always been a brand that champions women’s stories. The documentary will air as scheduled, starting tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT.”
Throughout the documentary Legend shares reflections on Kelly throughout the years. Recalling the singer’s biggest hit off of the 1996 Space Jam soundtrack, Legend says “‘I Believe I Can Fly’ is a powerful song and it inspired a lot of people. It was just massive.”
In 2002 Kelly was indicted after a video surfaced allegedly showing a man engaged in sex acts with a woman who some witnesses testified was 14 at the time of the recording.
“A lot of people saw that tape, it was circulating in the streets,” says Legend, in the documentary. Both R. Kelly and the woman denied that the video was of them, and R. Kelly was never charged with assault. In 2008, R. Kelly was found not guilty on 21 counts of child pornography.
A report from BuzzFeed News released in July 2017 alleged that R. Kelly has kept at least six women in his Chicago and Georgia properties who allegedly fulfill his desires and are punished if they break any of his “rules.” These allegations have never led to formal charges.
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Legend is the only major performer speaking out in the documentary but he is not the only prominent figure who takes part. Wendy Williams is interviewed along with founder of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke and popular radio hosts Charlamagne Tha God and Tom Joyner. Chance the Rapper also makes a brief appearance, voicing regret for working with Kelly amid the recent allegations.
As for the EGOT-winning star’s participation, “That makes John Legend even more of a hero for me,” the film’s executive producer Dream Hampton told Shadow and Act. After reaching out to dozens of music stars and R. Kelly’s former collaborators Hampton said, “Most people don’t want to touch it … because it’s so messy and muddy.”
In the last episode of the documentary Legend makes a strong claim: “Time’s up for R. Kelly.”
For more powerful stories from alleged victims of R. Kelly, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now.
Surviving R. Kelly airs on Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET from Thursday, Jan. 3 to Saturday, Jan. 5.
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.