Advocates gathered at Sony Music headquarters Wednesday morning calling on RCA Records to drop R. Kelly after the Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly brought more national attention to decades of his alleged abuse.
Chanting “Sony Music has no shame, they only care about profits and fame” and “RCA take a stand, we won’t stop till Kelly’s banned,” outside the building, the activists then entered the Sony Music lobby at 25 Madison Ave. with boxes containing petitions signed by 217,000 people demanding RCA drop the artist.
They also said they will present Sony Music and RCA Records with a “Record Label of Shame” award.
“R. Kelly has been able to get away with decades of abuse specifically because his victims were young black women,” Natalie Green, spokesperson for UltraViolet, an organization that fights against sexism, said at the rally.
“One of the music industries’ main defense of this sexual predator is to ‘separate the man from the music,’ but you can’t ignore that some of R. Kelly’s most popular songs were inspired by his abuse,” she added. “RCA records promoted an abuser, RCA records helped R. Kelly line his pockets, get royalties, tour the world — all the while R. Kelly is expanding his fan base, meeting more young black women he could abuse.”
Jamilah Lemieux, a writer who took part in the Surviving R. Kelly docu-series, also attended the rally, along with members of Color of Change, Black Women’s Blueprint and Girls for Gender Equity.
The rally outside Sony Music in New York City.
RCA Records did not immediately respond to a Metro request for comment. In light of the Surviving R. Kelly series, the record label has reportedly stopped production on the singer’s new music, will not release new work until the criminal investigations in Georgia are resolved and will not provide money for any R. Kelly music videos, TMZ reported.
But “that’s not enough,” Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, director of Color of Change, said at the rally.
“In 2017, Sony dropped Dr. Luke for his sexual violence against Kesha,” she said. “Why don’t young black girls and women get the same [recourse]?
Surviving R. Kelly backlash to Sony Music and beyond
The six-part Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which aired in early January, included dozens of interviews with alleged R. Kelly abuse survivors, families of his abuse victims who haven’t seen their daughters in years and members of the artists’ inner circle who were reportedly privy to his predilection for young girls and his actions like keeping girls locked inside his recording studio.
Though the allegations detailed in Surviving R. Kelly are not all knew, the docu-series has shed a new spotlight on the singer and those who have supported or enabled him.
Since it aired, Lady Gaga has apologized for working with R. Kelly and has promised to remove their song ‘Do What U Want’ from streaming platforms like iTunes. Chance the Rapper is also reportedly removing his R. Kelly collaborations from streaming platforms.
The advocates who called on RCA to drop R. Kelly said their fight isn’t over. They’re planning to go to Spotify and Apple music to demand action as well.
“It’s not just R. Kelly, it’s a culture shift,” one advocate said. “We believe black women and girls.”