R. Kelly behind bars, awaiting trial on 53rd birthday

Singer has been locked up with no bond since July 2019

When R&B superstar R. Kelly celebrated his 52nd birthday at a Chicago nightclub on Jan. 9, 2019, his public image, or what remained of it, was  crumbling around him.

There had been protests calling for a boycott of the singer's music, largely driven by the social media campaign using the hashtag Mute R. Kelly.

In light of the growing sexual allegations against him, music streaming services also announced they would no longer promote his music.

Even Kelly's record labels began to distance themselves from the singer.

Then came the airing of the explosive three-part documentary "Surviving R Kelly,” which exposed Kelly's secret life of alleged sexual misconduct with underaged girls, for which he now faces multiple sex-crime charges in separate federal indictments in New York and Illinois.

»RELATED: Can we really ignore allegations against R. Kelly anymore?

The public pressure for law enforcement to act gained even more steam when Kim Foxx, the state's attorney for Cook County, Illinois, held a news conference on Kelly's birthday in 2019 to encourage more of the singer’s accusers to come forward.

The night after Foxx spoke, a defiant Kelly threw himself a party at Chicago's V75 Lounge, where he was filmed singing an a cappella version of one of his major hit songs "Bump n' Grind" amid cheers and the flash of cellphone cameras.

During the impromptu show, he told the crowd "I don't give a (expletive)" about the allegations, then he posed for pictures with several fans in the audience.

A year later there is no party, there is no singing, there is no fanfare.

Kelly marked his 53rd birthday Wednesday as an inmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he has been locked up without bond since July 11, 2019.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center, left, where singer R. Kelly is being held on federal sex crimes charges.

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Charges he faces

The federal indictment against the singer includes 18 charges, including child sexual exploitation, child pornography production, kidnapping, forced labor, racketeering and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say Kelly conspired with two former employees to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories.

In the 2008 trial, Kelly was found not guilty.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the new charges.

Before the federal indictment came down, Kelly broke his silence in an emotional interview with CBS News co-host Gayle King, which aired on March 6, 2019.

In the segment, Kelly proclaimed his innocence and said his accusers were lying for their own personal gain.

Aside from the federal indictment, Kelly also faces 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Illinois and a charge of soliciting a minor in Minnesota.

R. Kelly indicted on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse

Federal prosecutors in New York also charged Kelly last month with bribery related to the 1994 purchase of a fake ID for the late singer Aaliyah in order to obtain a marriage license.

"Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning" aired last week on Lifetime and prompted a 40%  increase in calls to the national sexual assault hotline, according to a report from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Time in jail

Reports say that Kelly's time in jail has been unforgiving for the singer.

He was initially kept in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, a section for at-risk prisoners. Kelly’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, alleged the singer was put in solitary confinement due to his celebrity status, but jail officials said Kelly always had at least three cellmates during his time in the unit.

Kelly has since been transferred to the general prison population of the federal lockup while he awaits trial.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Kelly has access to an indoor recreation area three times a week and has purchased items from the commissary “including snacks such as Snickers.”

Only one of his two former live-in girlfriends has been allowed to visit at a time, Greenberg said, and no other friends or professional colleagues are allowed to see the singer.


Robert Sylvester Kelly was born January 8, 1967. The Chicago native made his debut in 1992 with the group Public Announcement before becoming a solo artist a year later with the album “12 Play.”

Since, he has sold more than 75 million records around the world and is considered one of the top-selling music artists of all time.

Some of his most popular songs include "I Believe I Can Fly," "Your Body's Calling," "I Wish," "Fiesta," and "Step In the Name of Love."

He was also nominated for a Grammy for writing Michael Jackson’s hit “You Are Not Alone.”

What’s next

Kelly’s trial date has been set for May 18 in a federal court in Brooklyn, according to reports. The trial is expected to last about three weeks. A trial in Chicago has been scheduled for April 27.

The singer’s most loyal fans have been posting tributes to social media recognizing his birthday.