The singer confessed that being Kelly’s daughter is like “a double-edged sword,” and said folks teasing her school because of her relation to the embattled singer made her feel suicidal.
Buku Abi, born Joann Kelly, is the daughter of Drea Kelly, who featured in the controversial “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary. When she went to public school as an early teen is when Abi said she heard the disturbing stories about her dad for the first time.
“At home it’s normal, you’re living a life with your parents – your dad and mum aren’t going to go into all the bad things that might be going on outside of home,” she said. “But kids in school don’t necessarily care. Fifth and sixth grade is when I started learning the sore part of it, the not so good part.. I think that was the hardest part for me because for so long I went with this image of who my dad (was) and what my family (was).”
Things were so bad in school, she even contemplated suicide. But Buku says singing saved her life.
She recalls singing onstage in high school during a performance, which she said “literally felt like drugs.”
“I needed more of this,” she added. “Clearly I can’t keep running from this anymore. Ever since then, I’ve been in it and it’s literally saved my life.”
But entering the music business has come with its challenge, as Abi can’t escape the fact that R. Kelly is her father.
“I definitely run across challenges — people wanting to work with me to spite him or people not wanting to work with me just because of who he is,” she said. “I’ve definitely come across turmoil … being judged for really no reason at all, just based off associations. I’ve been pushing through it. Me making the art, it saved my life so there’s nothing really that would be able to stop me.”
She doesn’t deny that her gift for singing and making music comes from her famous dad, saying: “There’s a lot about him as an artist that inspires me.”
She added, “He has made mistakes in his life and other things that he’s dealing with, but when it comes to that, I can’t take that away from him,” she said. “That’s the one thing that will always keep us connected.”
Abi said she tries not to pay attention to the negative press about her father: “I don’t let that be a part of my every day (life).”
″(We) don’t have a relationship, so it’s not like me to check in on him,” she said. “I don’t personally go look it all up and read. I keep myself out of it.”
R. Kelly is currently being held in a Chicago jail over several sexual abuse charges, which he denies.
You can read Abi’s full conversation with The AP here.