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Ohio music festival drops R&B star R. Kelly from lineup following backlash

Singer R. Kelly performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Singer R. Kelly performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for BET

Controversial R&B singer R. Kelly can’t seem to escape past legal troubles. On Wednesday, organizers of the Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio, have pulled the “I Believe I can Fly” singer from the Labor Day weekend lineup. Kelly was scheduled to perform on August 29.

Moments after being pulled from the lineup, Kelly’s publicist and the festival released a joint statement offering an apology to fans. The statement said, “Fashion Meets Music Festival and headlining artist R. Kelly have come to the mutual decision to cancel Kelly’s upcoming performance at the inaugural Fashion Meets Music Festival. R. Kelly is sorry to disappoint his fans but looks forward to seeing them in the near future during one of his upcoming tours.”

The decision to dump Kelly from the lineup came after complaints poured in following the announcement that the singer-songwriter was featured as a headliner. The backlash was a result of Kelly’s past legal troubles, particularly his indictment of 21 counts of making child pornography in 2002.

Although Kelly was found not guilty of the charges, he continues to be labeled as a sexual predator. That label stems from his relationship with the late R&B singer Aaliyah, who was just 15 years old when they married, as well as other allegations involving relations with underage girls.

FMMF organizers initially defended their selection of Kelly, but after bands and vendors pulled out, they decided to remove the Chicago-born singer due to the outcry, specifically from the community. Columbus-based folk group Saintseneca was one of the musical acts that were vocal. On their website they wrote that Kelly’s inclusion in the lineup “ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault.” The festival has no plans of replacing Kelly. The lineup includes Michelle Williams formerly of Destiny’s Child, O.A.R., Rusko, Future Islands, The Menzingers and Maps & Atlases.