From Closet to Doghouse: R Kelly’s Disappointing Macy’s Music Festival Performance


R Kelly singing “When A Woman Loves” at 2013 Macy’s Music Festival in Cincinnati, OH. Photo from Youtube upload.

Between a Facebook post and his performance at Cincinnati’s 2013 Macy’s Music Festival, R Kelly came out of the closet only to move into a doghouse.

Cincinnati, OH The Jazz Festival has a rich tradition in Cincinnati that reaches from its current marquee, Macy’s Music Festival, back to a predecessor, The Kool Jazz Festival.

Old school attendees will remember the 1970s when the dress was more flamboyant and a spectacle onto itself. Indeed, I recall as a teenager once wearing a blue popcorn shirt with double-knit elephant legged pink pants, equipped with a multi-colored elastic band. And black patent leather platform-heeled shoes to set it off.

You could not tell me that I was not looking good!

Memorable performances by iconic artists. Frankie Beverly, a perennial fan favorite. Patti Labelle. The O’Jays. Stephanie Mills. My uncle worked for then promoter Dino Santagelo who produced the event. Backstage access allowed one to see how seriously certain artists took the opportunity. George Benson would gather his group, each member instructed to hold hands. If a beer can was open, Benson would order the band member to put it down for a moment of prayer. Responsible artists embrace the history. And they respect the hard-earned money fans pay to participate in it. 

One can arguably point to the legacy of this musical kaleidoscope as a barometer of African American culture. What we enjoy in music. How we dress. The sheer enormity of black spending and its economic impact on a region. And indeed, the love we have for one another — a love not often highlighted in the media’s fixation on negative imagery.

Any artist that graces the stage must respect the grandeur of the opportunity and the responsibility one has to the legacy of the event. Perhaps that was in R Kelly’s mind hours before his performance when he posted on Facebook:

“Cincinnati! Who’s ready to dance with R. Kelly tonight? Kellz can’t wait to take over the Macy’s Music Festival stage TONIGHT!”

But something went terribly off-course on R Kelly’s way to center stage. The artist arrived late to the stage, appearing at approximately 1:00 AM after a tiring crowd had been treated to an evening of music that extended from twilight hours into the night. Without explanation or apology, R Kelly proceeded to give song-clip renditions in a medley of ballads that would be anticlimactic after soul-stirring performances by the professionalism of and outpouring by Kem and Fantasia. The thousands of upset fans that exited Paul Brown Stadium upset with R Kelly was a foreshadowing of the social media blasting to come.

And how social media blasted the self-proclaimed “King of R&B”:

“just a thought. after waiting and watching the king r and pee kelly, was that the worst performance in music festival history. submitted for your comments: over an hour late, kept telling the people to make some noise, singing medley of songs (about 30 seconds apiece) stopped the concert until security moved gates (for the fans) really! song to a track. i could not take it every more, i left….”   — Clifford Rollison Jr

“…I was very Disappointed in R. Kelly .. Thought it was rude and inconsiderate to make his fans wait. Didn’t likeThe medleys either and just felt like he was just to into himself.. Really enjoyed Fantasia and Kem !!!  — Renee Smith

“Don’t waste your money/time to go see R. Kelly… SO DISAPPOINTED…”

— Kristen D. Price (my daughter)


R Kelly’s Facebook fan page offered no refuge for the entertainer as user after usertongue-lashed the artist. One going as far to remind him that if his act does not improve, he will return to being “Robert”, formerly known as R Kelly!

Of the countless social media posts, one in-particular spelled potential trouble around the corner that would have given caution to the night’s attendees:

“I’m here and ready Kelz!!! Please finish your songs and not just sing half the song like u did in Detroit!!!” Saturday at 14:04 — Stacy Murray Macklin 


One might conclude that R Kelly is a serial violator. Sadly, the artist’s supposed talents might have been remained trapped in Detroit’s closet, while his residency took on a new address in Cincinnati’s doghouse. 

Several narratives emerged to explain R Kelly’s actions. The rumored discontent about security gates, real or not, neither gave solace to attendees nor reasons for the poor performance. Cincinnatians well remember the fateful evening of December 3, 1979 when eleven attendees at the Who concert died of compressive asphyxia, smothered to death, during a stampede for general admission seats. While the Macy’s Music Festival did not suffer from general seating issues, surely the tragedy is not lost on the minds of concert promoters and Cincinnati, in-general. R Kelly was not the promoter, just an artist. He was not responsible for event insurance. Not liable in the event another event turned bad. To take issue with security is not acceptable. If Kem was perfectly willing to perform, behind security barriers, songs that bring women out of their seats, surely R Kelly should have been willing to sing under the same conditions.

As for festival planners, fans deserve a top-notch event given the investment so many make to attend. Each artist must be contracted to appear on-time. Not exceed their timeslot. Accept the operational plan, including security barriers. And perform songs in their entirety.  It is the least that people should expect having paid high-priced tickets, and for many, shelling out money for travel, lodging, dining, etc. This is good for Macy’s that places its name on the event. This is good for promoter — The Santangelo Group. This is good for Cincinnati, often in the news for less than stellar reasons.

Ultimately, the festival is larger than R Kelly. The artist will find this out in the days to come with reviews that commend his peers, while checkmating the self-proclaimed “King”. 



R Kelly Facebook Page postings:

  • Traci Mc Boooooooooooooooo, u were the Worst act I’ve ever seen in all my years of attending the festival!!! Stay your asss out of Cincinnati.. Yesterday at 01:47 · Like · 7 
  • Jackie Conner Smdh! !!! I could have saved my money. Really disappointed with his show tonight. Going to bed mad Yesterday at 01:53 via mobile · Like · 2
  • Trenton Bunner Ur ass wasn’t there… 


  • Beatrice Davis Was disappoint in your lack of respect for your fans. Late and add to it delayed the show. If you cared about your fans, you should have P Yesterday at 02:36 · Like · 3 
  • Shanika Sandidge I hope they dont never bring yo sorry ass back to cincinnati!!! You was a hour late ,got on stage an walk back off rushed through the songs , I just knew you was going to turn it out ,but it was more like a turn off ,whatever the hell you was on last night you need to stay off of it. An yo sorry ass didn’t even apologize
    20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3  
  • Gregg Beasley Kelly you owe your Fans a serious Apology for staying around to see that Garbage that’s why Acts like Charlie continue to be real they are there for the Fan’s first. Get your money bruh but don’t forget the fans that helped you get there 19 hours ago via mobile · Like · 6 
  • Shanika Sandidge I’m pist for now on I will continue to watch u from my tv screen where its FREE !!! You did a better show on the Bet awards .. If you didn’t want to put on a good show you should of left yo ass at home !!!!!
    19 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3 
  • Tunya Long-Ottrix It was more like 2 hours late! We were sitting outside AND it was COLD! Made us wait all that time and the show wasn’t even that good! Fantasia showed you up and I’m not even her fan! People was getting up and leaving…my husband wanted to ummm no! I paid….you sing. 19 hours ago via mobile · Like · 4 
  • James R Spikes Damn kellz wat a dissappointment ….first time to.actually see u and u shit on cincinnati….18 hours ago · Like · 4 
  • Terri Briggins Kelly I’m a huge fan and have seen you when you do your own show. The only thing I can tell you is when you come to Cincinnati you got to bring your A game. I know you been doing the festivals this summer and some go into the wee hours. Just realize who you are singing too…. just ask Mary J. Blige…that is why see is afraid to this day to perform at the Festival. 17 hours ago · Like · 1 
  • Tawanah Samar Kellzz, have loved u since forever!! Came all the way from Cleveland to see u and never did due to your tardiness. If your head is in the sand “as it should be” At least have a spokesperson Apologize on your behalf!! 75,000 folk! Largest turn out ever due to you. Be a Man about your business and handle this. Stuff happens ok…But step ya Dick up!! Im listening …………17 hours ago · Like · 5

    CL McWilliams You didn’t take over NOTHIN’! You came to the Macy’s Festival 2013 2 hours late. We were very disappointed; people from all over the globe were there. 
    14 hours ago · Like · 2 


  • Tkezal Notonit Newme U wack ass all your people came to see your performance and you gave the MOST SHITIEST F UP one ever no excuse to your people nothing remember who support your raggedy ass give us something we payed for them ticket what the fk get your shit together or stay off the fin stage dam
    13 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1 
  • Margo Wallace Kelly you were almost 2 hours late..I came to the festival just to really see you..what a huge disappointment.. Well fantasia did her thing..thank god 13 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2 
  • Edward James He was some pure garbage… He had everyone waiting a hour and a half before he came on stage.then on top of that it was taped music…not a live band……never will i ever go out of my way 2 see him again 13 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2  
  • Schanell Carter I am very disappointed in the way you treated the fans who came from everywhere to see you perform, especially your hometown Chicago . I have been to many of your concerts but I never thought you would treat the people who help you get to where you are now. It would be best if you somehow give your fans a heartfelt apology . 13 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3 
  • Kimberly Stephens Woodard You are one of my favorite singer, but u showed me and my city(Cincinnati) that our time does not matter. We waited for you to come out for about 2 hour and as I was leaving “here you come” only to have you leave again because u could not get your way. I HAVE A LIST OF PERFOMER WHO I WILL NOT PAY TO SEE AGAIN AND NOW YOU ARE ON IT!!!!!SMDH 12 hours ago · Like · 5 
  • Renetta Jordan Problem: We get up this morning and still no explanation or apology for the “FIASCO” last night at the Macy’s Music Festval. We have supported you through all of you trials and tribulations, but no more!! You act as if your fans are beneath you. You are what you are only because of us. DON’T YOU EVER FORGET THAT!
    10 hours ago · Like · 4  
  • Sarah Smith We spent 300 on tickets just to see YOU, waited about 2 hours, froze, disappointed 9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 4 
  • La’ Tanya D. Foster I won’t continue to support you! You were just Robert before your fans and without your fans that’s all you will be. A man with the ability who flushed it. You were a sad sight and you need to get yo mind right before you end up as Robert FORMLY known as R. Kelly the most successful R&B artist. Don’t shit where you eat! #YouLostYourOhioLove 7 hours ago · Like · 3  
  • Kristi Lynn Wiesman Everytime i c u its worse than the last time… i feel as if u really arent ready… what a huge disappointment .. i paid to b close .. folk were gettin eso angry they began fightin an chairs went flying . I go every yr thank u for ruining my evening i will not return … 7 hours ago · Like · 1 
  • Sonji Cobert Love your music but you completely disregarded and disrespected your fans. No consideration for our time and money spent to see you….7 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2 
  • Robin Jicho If this is a cry for help please call your pastor, Oprah or maybe Iyanla Vanzant.
    6 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1 
  • Kelly IsfinallyHappy Smith Kristi don’t not return because of R Kelly believe he will Not be back
    5 hours ago · Like · 1 
  • Margo Wallace Oh….he apologize on twitter…whatever




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