Buku Abi, the daughter of disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly, has opened up about her father and his crimes, saying she tries not to think about the almost-daily updates hitting the news about her estranged dad.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, 21-year-old Buku (real name: Joann Kelly), who chose that name for herself after ditching the name her parents had given her, said that she was in the latter stages of elementary school when she started learning the truth, bit by bit, about her father.
Even before she was born, R. Kelly was raising eyebrows in the music business with his suspected, alleged illegal activities with underage girls. For Buku, those matters never came up in her home life; her parents were just mom and dad, and she had no idea that her father was suspected of anything untoward.
It began coming out when she was in fifth and sixth grade, she says, when she started hearing her classmates whisper about her father’s alleged crimes.
“Kids in school don’t necessarily care. Fifth and sixth grade is when I started learning the sore part of it, the not so good part,” she says.
She and her father have since become estranged, although she doesn’t say when, why, or how that estrangement happened.
R. Kelly Out of Solitary Confinement, Moved to General Population https://t.co/rjoOuyThq1
— TMZ (@TMZ) September 3, 2019
Despite the fact that they’re not speaking, Buku says that, at the end of the day, her father did inspire in her a love of music and that he’s a talented artist.
“There’s a lot about him as an artist that inspires me,” she says.
In fact, it was music that saved Buku’s life. In school, she was so troubled by rumors and gossip about her father that she considered suicide. However, one day, while singing on stage in high school, she realized that music was, to her, “like drugs,” and she needed more of it in her life.
Unfortunately, her connection to her father has been a blessing and a curse in her pursuit of a music career. Some producers won’t touch her because she’s connected to her dad, even though she doesn’t use his name. Others, she said, have offered to work with her simply out of spite for her dad.
As for her father’s alleged crimes, she says that she tries not to think about it, despite news about him coming through the celebrity reporting industry on an almost daily basis.
“(We) don’t have a relationship, so it’s not like me to check in on him,” she said.