GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — With demonstrators standing outside his concert protesting his presence, R. Kelly summoned his passionate fans to carry him through what has been a difficult week.
Interspersing references to God with his suggestive lyrics and salty language, Kelly stirred up a crowd inside the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday to buoy him as he encountered longstanding allegations of mistreatment of women and an effort to get coliseum officials to cancel the concert.
“Sometimes, some storms ain’t gonna stop,” Kelly told the audience during his nearly one-hour performance. “As long as my fans are calling for me, I’m gonna be on that stage, singing these songs.”
Well after his performance, however, the storms that started before he arrived continued to roil.
Women’s groups had urged the Greensboro Coliseum to cancel, days after Kelly was disinvited from a concert in Chicago. Spotify announced it would no longer stream his music in its curated playlists.
Although it didn’t announce the move, Apple’s music-streaming service also has stopped promoting Kelly’s music on some of the featured playlists that it shows its 40 million subscribers. Like Spotify, Apple Music still carries an extensive selection of Kelly’s songs in its library.
Apple declined to further comment Saturday.
Pandora also declined to discuss how it is now treating Kelly’s music in its curated playlists, but said it has decided not to promote “artists with certain demonstrable behavioral, ethical or criminal issues. We approach each of these scenarios on a case-by-case basis.”
But before the latest moves, Kelly took the stage, inviting some audience members to join him. Stage hands also passed out t-shirts that read “Turn Up R. Kelly.”
“I’ve been through a lot of (expletive)” this week, he said. He thanked his fans, “for y’all to fight for me all these years.”
Kelly said he was approached backstage to tone down his songs and language because there were families in attendance.
“Let me ask y’all something,” he said to the crowd. “Can I do my show tonight?”
Kelly then launched into his sexually suggestive repertoire. At one point, he rubbed a fan’s cell phone between his legs. He persuaded another to wipe his face, tongue and crotch with a towel.