It was a shocking sound clash of two entirely different musical worlds. But when R&B superstar R. Kelly made a surprise appearance during the end of a stellar set by headlining French synth-rock band Phoenix at Coachella this month, it became the talk of the long-running storied gig. Still fans should not have been that surprised. According to Kelly, the Grammy-winning veteran is plotting a takeover of the indie rock music festival circuit. The singer-songwriter—who was recently chosen as VIBE’s greatest musical genius since 1993—is set to perform on the same stage as Beatles giant Paul McCartney, among others, at the upcoming Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (June 13-16). And he will join the left-field likes of Björk, and Belle and Sebastian in his hometown of Chicago at the Pitchfork Music Festival (July 19-21).
“I appreciate them for even considering me,” Kelly said to VIBE of the various music festivals that have recruited him to perform. “I was shocked. I had never even heard of Bonnaroo to be honest. But when you are honest about who you are you get blessed back. That’s probably why they called me because I am music. I can rock any damn thing. It doesn’t matter who is out there because music is love. Music is one color.”
Kelly says there’s a reason why pop and rock fans gravitate towards his musical catalogue. He points to his blues background as the great equalizer. “Well, you have to understand that my grandfather was a blues singer,” he explains. “He played guitar. I was inspired by him, musically, too. I came up with a bag of musical goodies, so when I became famous I was able to incorporate some of everything that my mother did, that my grandfather did, and my uncles did just sitting on the porch. All of that is in me. It’s really just my family coming through me.”
R. Kelly is set to release his upcoming album Black Panties this summer.—Keith Murphy (murphdogg29)