An Ohio music festival that is slated to run Aug. 29-31 in Columbus has dropped R. Kelly from its lineup after receiving complaints from folks not happy about the singer’s past allegations regarding child pornography and sexual assault.
The Fashion Meets Music Festival includes performers such as O.A.R. and Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams. But when it was announced that Kelly would take part in the festival, two local Ohio bands—Damn the Witch Siren and Saintseneca—dropped out of the show.
“We feel [R. Kelly’s] selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault,” Saintseneca said in a statement. “We feel it is an affront to all survivors, who are already often overlooked and forgotten in our society.” Not only did the two acts drop out of the festival, but local Ohio station WCBE 90.5 FM withdrew its sponsorship of the festival.
After feeling the backlash, the festival pulled Kelly from the lineup and explained its reasoning on Facebook: “FMMF and R. Kelly have decided to part ways. We appreciate the ongoing support of our Festival partners and look forward to kicking things off next month,” the post stated.
This is a stark change from festival co-founder Bret Adams’ original thoughts about having Kelly perform at the festival. “I don’t even think [Kelly’s inclusion] was a debate. We don’t have a national R&B act, and we wanted to fill that void, and he’s one of the best-selling artists of all time. Why wouldn’t we?” Adams said last month. Adams also went on to say that Kelly was never convicted of any wrongdoing and that “we’re not the morality police.”
One can only assume that once money and sponsorship are lost, you quickly become the morality police.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.