R. Kelly's daughter Buku Abi has been estranged from her father for years

By Maria Pasquini
January 25, 2019 08:35 PM
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R. Kelly’s 21-year-old daughter Buku Abi hasn’t spoken to her father in years, and that’s not about to change anytime soon.

In a new interview with Good Morning Britain, Abi — whose real name is Joann Kelly — explained that “there is no conversation to be had” with her father, who has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the Lifetime docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly.

“I’ll just leave it at that,” she remarked. “My phone ring is going to just keep ringing…it’s a no from me.”

Abi went on to add that “it has been extremely hard” to grapple with the allegations made against Kelly, both on a personal level and on a professional level, as she’s also involved in the music industry.

“A lot of people don’t know how to separate his family from the things that he has going on in his life. And so my siblings and I, we worry very, very hard and very diligently to make sure that we’re doing this on our own and we’re writing our own music and we’re rehearsing together; and my sister, she is an amazing producer and that’s how we try and work through everything that comes with the last name Kelly,” the singer-songwriter explained.

Buku Abi and R. Kelly
Buku Abi/Instagram; Prince Williams/WireImage

As for her decision not to use her last name professionally, Abi knew it was something she needed to do.

“I absolutely did it on purpose,” she shared, adding that even though over the years many people suggested she use her father’s last name to help advance her career, she “wanted people to know I have my own identity, I am my own person.”

“My last name has nothing to do with who I am at heart,” she continued, adding that all of her siblings, who also share a passion for music and art, want people to know “we are more” than just Kelly’s children.

During the interview, Abi also disputed a claim Kelly’s lawyer previously made to Good Morning Britain earlier that week, which claimed that Abi’s mother, Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea “Drea” Kelly, was responsible for the singer’s estrangement from his children.

“My response is simply that that is not the truth,” she shared. “My mother would never do that.”

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Earlier this week, Abi appeared on GMB with her mother to explain how even though they’ve both spoken out against the singer, their personal relationships with him make their situations complicated.

“We’re dealing with it as best as possible,” Andrea, who was married to Kelly for 13 years and is the mother of his three children, said on Monday’s episode.

“I don’t think people have a clear understanding that we’re dealing with two people here – there’s R. Kelly the persona and then there’s Robert the person. Myself and my daughter, we’re connected to Robert the person,” she added.

Drea, who was one of many women who took part in Surviving R. Kelly, which features interviews with individuals 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, went on to add that while contending with all of the allegations surrounding the singer is “difficult…I think that [it] is needed.”

R. Kelly
Prince Williams/WireImage

Referring to an emotional message she posted on social media earlier this month, condemning her “terrible” father and calling him a “monster,” Abi went on to share that she does “still love” her father.

“I never came out and said what I said to make people feel like I hate him or I’m bashing him because that’s not it,” Abi continued. “But if my father’s a toxic person then unfortunately we have to love him from a distance. There’s no love lost but I just had to separate myself.”

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.