Buku Abi, daughter to Robert and Andrea Kelly, is following in her parents creative and artistic footsteps by embarking on a singing career of her own, with a new EP out called Don’t Call Me. For those who don’t know, Andrea Kelly is a very skilled dancer. It’s how she met R. Kelly before the two ultimately married and had three children.
I don’t have to tell you that Buku’s father, singer R. Kelly is in the midst of yet another legal battle. He’s currently imprisoned on charges of child pornography.
But in the midst of her father’s struggles, Buku is attempting to establish herself in an industry she had once avoided. She spoke to the Associated Press about her journey.
Abi, who was born JoAnn Kelly, claimed that she had seen the hellish part of the game and wanted no parts. But she couldn’t leave music alone. In the midst of everything she’s gone through, music has been a solace.
And when your father’s R. Kelly, things can get rough. Abi explained when her father’s “sins” started seeping into her own life.
“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,” she said, “but 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. 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).”
When her classmates started telling her stories about her own father, Abi said there were times when she considered suicide. Then she sang on stage during a high school performance and said the feeling of singing in front of people “literally felt like drugs.”
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“I needed more of this,” she said. “Clearly, I can’t keep running from this anymore. Ever since then, I’ve been in it and it’s literally saved my life.”
Naturally, attempting a music career, with her father’s reputation hasn’t been easy.
“I definitely run across challenges — people wanting to work with me to spite him or people not wanting to work with me just because of who he is. I’ve definitely come across turmoil … being judged for really no reason at all, just based off associations. I’ve been pushing through it. Me making the art, it saved my life so there’s nothing really that would be able to stop me.”
Abi released her debut project this past March with the help of her sister Jaah Kelly, who produced the album.
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Although Abi says she no longer has a relationship with her father, music is where they connect.
“There’s a lot about him as an artist that inspires me. He has made mistakes in his life and other things that he’s dealing with, but when it comes to that, I can’t take that away from him. That’s the one thing that will always keep us connected.”
Abi believed that she could rekindle the relationship with her father. The two collaborated on a song called “Wanna Be There.” It appeared on Kelly’s 2015 album The Buffet.
“At that time I was in a place where I was genuinely trying to have a relationship with my father. But it was so complicated at that time, as it always is. It was a great experience, I’m glad that I did it, but it just wasn’t like what everybody assumed, and that’s the part that sucks. It wasn’t this big kumbaya moment.”
If it didn’t happen then, the likelihood of it happening now with R. Kelly being in jail as he awaits his trial in April is unlikely. As he awaits his fate, Abi is protecting her spirit.
“I don’t let that [her father’s legal troubles] be a part of my every day (life). (We) don’t have a relationship, so it’s not like me to check in on him. I don’t personally go look it all up and read. I keep myself out of it.”
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