LOS ANGELES: Fresh off the conviction of Bill Cosby, the Time’s Up movement for gender equality on Monday urged the music business to reject R&B star R. Kelly.
The singer, whose smooth voice has generated years of hits, most notably “I Believe I Can Fly”, has faced repeated allegations of mistreatment of underage girls and young women.
Calling the conviction last week of comedian Cosby “just a start,” the Women of Color division of Time’s Up urged “people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse, and predatory behaviour.”
Backing a social media campaign dubbed #MuteRKelly, the women’s movement urged the singer’s record label, as well as streaming services Spotify and Apple Music, to drop him, and called on the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina to cancel his concert scheduled on May 11.
“We demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now,” the Women of Color of Time’s Up said in a statement.
“And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us – their time is up.”
The singer has already been removed from the lineup of a concert Saturday at the University of Illinois at Chicago after a petition campaign.
Responding on Instagram on Sunday, Kelly, a Chicago native, apologised to fans for not performing.
“I never heard of a show being cancelled because of rumours. But I guess there’s a first time for everything,” he said in a video.
Kelly, 51, was acquitted in 2008 of charges of child pornography after the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a video that allegedly showed him in sexual acts with an underage girl.
Earlier in April, a woman filed a complaint with police in Dallas alleging that Kelly knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease during a relationship that began when she was 19.
Last year, BuzzFeed News reported that Kelly was holding six women in virtual slavery with power over their clothing, diet, and sexual encounters, which he would allegedly record.
Kelly has denied all the allegations against him. Last year, he said he was “alarmed and disturbed” by the report of his purported sex cult.