Skip to main content

Grammy-winning singer R. Kelly is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking. And while the disgraced music star continues to serve time, those he hurt — including his own family — continue to suffer from his actions. His own daughter, herself a singer, has experienced an adverse effect on her own music career, despite being the child of a hit singer.

Buku Abi, daughter of R. Kelly and Andrea Kelly, smiling for a photo
Buku Abi, born Joann Kelly as the daughter of R. Kelly and Andrea Kelly | Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Buku Abi has been trying to launch a music career for a decade

R. Kelly‘s daughter was born Joann Kelly and performs under the name Buku Abi. Both Abi and her mother, Andrea Kelly, sat down with Majic 107.5 in August 2022 and spoke about their experiences being the daughter and wife of the embattled R&B singer.

Abi said that her relation to the “Ignition” singer has been hurting her career for a decade. “A lot of people don’t know,” she said, “I do music, I do visual arts. I went to school for it.”

Being the daughter of R. Kelly has hurt her career, either because she’s perceived to have gotten it because of her father or because her father’s reputation has tainted her by association. “The experience has been, ‘You’re only getting this because of who your parents are,’ and then, ‘You’re not getting this because of who your parents are,’” she said.

She lost record deals because of her father

Abi revealed that her last name cost her record deal opportunities.

“From 13 up until 24 I’ve been trying to get into the music business,” she admitted. She spoke about how she flew out to Los Angeles and was prepared to sign a record deal, but the deal was taken away at the last second once someone discovered her connection to Kelly. She said it happened “a good amount” of times.

Iyanla Vanzant Didn’t Want to Bring R. Kelly on ‘Fix My Life’

Her father’s reputation almost led her to suicide

Abi opened up about how her father’s name has hurt her in a 2019 interview with the Associated Press. “I think you get to see a different side of it than somebody who sees it from the outside and gets to see the glitz and glam. I got to see the hell part of it,” she said.

She began to find out about her father’s true actions from others in school. “At home it’s normal, you’re living a life with your parents; your dad and mom aren’t going to go into all the bad things that might be going on outside of home, but kids in school don’t necessarily care,” she said. “Fifth and sixth grade is when I started learning the sore part of it, the not so good part. I think that was the hardest part for me because for so long I went with this image of who my dad [was] and what my family [was].”

She confessed that she considered taking her own life, but music became her saving grace. “Ever since then, I’ve been in it and it’s literally saved my life,” she said.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.