Written by Ollie Francis
R. Kelly was one of the most multifaceted artists within the last 30 years; ranging from Billboard chart-topping hits, to retrieving numerous of Grammys and other promothsous awards as both an artist and songwriter. Different walks of life would ‘Step in the Name of Love,’ while reciting the joyous lyrics to ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ after overcoming adversities.
Many would consider R. Kelly to be a living legend from his significant contribution of redefining the structure of ‘R&B,’ as well as intertwining R&B with Pop and Gospel on a mainstream spectrum. However, the ill-conceived notions of his personal demons would be the demise of his long-standing career.
Speculations stemmed back from August of 1994 when R. Kelly allegedly married his protégé at the time, the late Aaliyah when she was only 15 and he was 27 years old. The powerhouse singer adamantly denied these allegations, although there have been court documents of their marriage license in the state of Illinois to contradict Kelly’s rebuttal.
Another scandal against R. Kelly surfaced back in 2002, when a video footage anonymously found in the mailbox of journalist at the Chicago Sun-Times; Jim DeRogatis who then turned it to the police, followed by leaking in the underground and internet thresholds of R. Kelly having intercourse and engaging in lewd acts with a minor, who at the time was 12-years-old. The pre-teen was allegedly R. Kelly’s protégé, Sparkle’s (‘Be Careful,’ circa 1998) niece and his God-Daughter.
R. Kelly would be formally charged with a whopping 14-counts of child pornography and criminal sexual act with a minor – and the trial would last roughly from 2002-2008 before being acquitted.
Within those years, Kelly would be sued by five different women for sexual misconduct, in which were settled out of court.
Despite those asinine factors, R. Kelly’s career was not only prominent, yet he was well adverse and respected by not only his community in his hometown and music industry, but the cumbersome number of fans as well.
R. Kelly as a solo artist would acquire over 50, top-10 Billboard singles and albums; be accredited for writing chart topping singles for artists such as Celine Dion, K. Michelle, B2K, and the late Michael Jackson to name a few.
But what changed? If those around the ‘Pied Piper,’ knew about his unlawful attraction to underage girls, why did it take so long for his demise?
Jerhonda Johnson (IE: Pace).
Those who are unfamiliar with the name, Jerhonda Johnson, who once was a die-hard R. Kelly fan, would then skip classes during his trial back in 2008. By the following year, the pair would engage in a sexual relationship while Johnson was still a minor. Approximately 16 at the time. Their relationship would last about three years until Johnson was kicked out of R. Kelly’s estate in 2010.
In 2017, the young woman would break silence, and code of a signed Nondisclosure agreement signed with the singer, and vocalized her experience with DeRogatis who at the time was in conjunction with BuzzFeed News and the New Yorker on the allegations of R. Kelly’s ‘sex cult’ where he kept women at their will.
The wake of “Surviving R. Kelly,” sparked fury and controversy all across the world, once hearing the stories from a dozen of Kelly’s victims and how their encounters would be.
Sexual deviances, abuse, torture, and mistreatment would consider to be the common denominator for majority of the women. Many were plagued by somber from the memory of the singer.
Yet, there were two young women at the time of “Surviving R. Kelly,” defended the singer in public outcries. Upon R. Kelly’s incarceration, his live-in girlfriends Jocelyn Savage and Azriel Clary were both adamant of Kelly’s innocence – until an image of Clary posted at her father’s household, joyous to return home back in January 2020. Followed suit, Clary would post a tweet stating:
“No one ever wakes up and says “today, I’m going to be manipulated, or taken advantage of, or kidnapped…” those are things you just cannot control. I never thought me and victim would be in the same sentence because I was too in denial… but once you realize, you realize.”
A native of Baltimore, Azriel would be considered as multi-dimensional; partaking and excelled in various kinds of sports, education, and underlying passion of performing arts. She belted out profound melodies naturally as if she was a caged bird and it was evident to her parents that she was destined for stardom.
At the age of 17, Azriel attended an R. Kelly concert in Baltimore alongside her parents. At the time, Clary’s parents assumed that the aspiring singer would enhance her singing capabilities if she saw one of the greatest performers in person, and a chance encounter of formally meeting R. Kelly would turn into a tumultuous affair for years to come.
Beyond the talent Azriel bestowed, Robert Kelly had a hidden agenda – one that he prompted many of his victims with throughout the past three decades. A lewd mindset to convince a young lady – barely a high school senior, to relocate from Baltimore to Chicago to pursue a musical career under his guise whereas the intentions were to tangle into a web of his cult.
Although Azriel has yet publicly spoken about her five-year duration with the singer, it would be speculated that alongside several of his victims (Lizzette Martinez – whom R. Kelly met and acquired a relationship with when she was 17; Lisa Van Allen – whom in a similar case, established a relationship at 17; Jerhonda Pace – where R. Kelly established a relationship with when she was 14 years old) were abused physically, sexually, and prohibited to have outside contact with family members and social media unless administered by the predator.
A few weeks ago, Clary streamed on the YouTube platform to answer a plethora of questions in regard to her experience with the former superstar. “I am currently in therapy,” the 23-year-old Baltimore native vilified to her fan base. “In therapy, I was told I have to find other outlets to express myself. That is the process of healing,” Clary would continue.
Throughout the hour-long stream, the aspiring singer often paused for brief moments to collect her thoughts or to minimize her hyperventilating stammers. It was clear that she was reflecting on the tumultuous journey at such a young age, to now being an advocate of young women who are currently going through a similar situation.
“I’m not telling my story just to heal. I hope that my story will help other women who are going through this situation,” Clary stated in the YouTube clip.Azriel Clary – YouTube May 2020
Although Azriel did not go in depth with her journey (considering she is still in communication with FBI for R. Kelly’s sex-trafficking indictment), she did let it be known that in the upcoming series of videos that she will unveil every aspect of her relationship with the ‘Pied Piper,’ in which she showcased a few photos and screenshots of their conversations.
After the YouTube stream went public, many spectators were rooting for Clary’s journey to healing while others felt as if she was voicing her story to maintain relevancy.
What are your opinions and thoughts of Azriel coming forward?
Watch the video after the jump: