CHICAGO – After nearly a decade of silence, the musician Sparkle and her family were finally talking again. Everyone welcomed them at the place of their parents after the church on Sunday, at birth parties for nieces and nephews.
Then in October, the door closed again: The preview for the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” was dropped, and Sparkle was there, telling the world what she thought Robert Kelly had done for her niece.
One of the sisters texted her to say that Sparkle had heard of a “TV production about rob” talking about the family. She told Sparkle to leave them alone.
Sparkle, a singer, was a protégée by R. Kelly once. He made his debut album in the late 1990s, which went golden. However, in 2002, he was arrested on child pornography charges arising from a video showing a man with a baby with a baby. Sparkle gave evidence in a 2008 trial that Mr Kelly was the man in the video, and that the girl was her 14 year old niece.
Her evidence confirmed that her family had factions, and that she had been in exile for many years, and could alleviate her career. In today's world, it could be said that sparkle is better known for his public position against him than she is for her music. And as Mr Kelly is facing new charges for sexual abuse, prosecutors told her that she can be called to give evidence again.
“I hope I don't need it,” she said. “But I have to. I have to see this thing. ”
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Sparkle, whose name is Stephanie Edwards, was born on West Chicago, the youngest of six children. (She described her current age as “somewhere between birth and death.”) The family moved to Oakpark suburb when Sparkle 3 began to sing in the church a year later. Inspired by her father, she and her brothers established a gospel group growing up. “I don't know if I was ever sorry that I was a professional singer, because I wanted to be a model,” she said with laughs. “But I like my grandfather, it was like, No, you get there as you sing, and you'd better be better!”
She met Mr Kelly in 1989 and a few years later, she said, she was singing a backup of an album he was producing: “Age Ain's Nothing but her Number,” by the singer Aaliyah. The title of the album would soon be: Mr Kelly, who was 27 years old, had Aaliyah, who was 15 years old. The marriage was annulled. (Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.)
Mr. Kelly's lawyer refused to comment on this section.
Sparkle said she thought that discussing the marriage was publicity publicity. How would anything like that happen when Aaliyah's parents and her uncle, who were Mr Kelly's manager, were always around? She continued to work with him.
Then, in 1996, Mr. Kelly changed Sparkle life. She had a big retirement party for her father when Mr Kelly asked her and asked her to come down to her studio in the West River neighborhood in Chicago. She went into a long black dress and heels, and when she came, she began recording her own debut album, “Sparkle.” She spent time recording at night and went to work in SportsChannel Chicago as an engineer assistant.
Sparkle's album, released in 1998, was a huge success and sold half a million copies. But even before his release, his professional relationship with Mr Kelly was so stressful that he was threatening not to release him at all, she said. By the time they started working on their second album, it was impossible.
“He wanted to be really controlling, and I saw him now,” she said. “You don't want to do that with me.”
Sparkle said that she asked to be loose from her contract, and let her go. She released her second album, “Told You So”, with Motown records in 2000, but it was less successful.
Sparkle is still a singer, although she has not repeatedly succeeded in the success she saw 20 years ago. She spent a few years back-up to Toni Braxton. She released a single in 2012 called “So Bad.” She said that private performances helped her to live. And just before the documentary about Mr Kelly came out in January, she released a new song called “We Are Ready, ”examines #MeToo movement themes. It is impossible to find out what effect his scism had on Mr Kelly's career, but in a relationship-based business, it was probably the most likely thing to create figures.
Today, she lives in the center of Chicago with Bruce Wayne, her manager and boy of almost 20 years.
“I'm fighting to name a street after her,” said Mr Wayne. “She was a mirror to society. This is more than R. Kelly, and she is as far as everyone. ”
With long blond hair and elegant bearings, Sparkle makes herself like a woman who knows how to build a picture, and how to withstand land. But the perfect presentation is very popular.
Good friends call Steph, but many people call her Miss Jenkins. This nickname comes from a slot on the TV show “In Living Color,” where a cute character Benita Butrell danced into the camera and then announced, “but I can't turn it, so you don't hear it. So the character knew he was replying and saying “No one can say that there is anything bad about Miss Jenkins!” before she breaks Miss Jenkins.
Sparkle loves, keeping secrets, even the most uncomfortable truths. She believes she is obliged to tell if someone is wrong.
“Growing up, she was always whistle-blower and she said,” said Mr Wayne. “This is what I think is duty duty.” T
Prior to her departure, Mr Kelly made a decision to radically change her family: Ms Kelly was introduced to her legal brother, guitar player and niece. The girl was expecting a rapist, charismatic and talented, and Sparkle said that she hoped Mr Kelly could do his niece what she was doing for her. (His niece is now in the mid 30s, but Sparkle is still refusing to say her name during an interview, which describes her as an attempt to protect her.)
In 2001, a lawyer who said he wanted to represent her sister contacted Sparkle to say that Mr Kelly had sex with his niece. Sparkle decided to testify against Mr Kelly, as well as about a dozen other witnesses who recognized Mr Kelly and his niece in court. But her sister argued that the girl in the video was not a child. The family split. Only one of Sparkle's brothers – Bennie Edwards, who was biting with her hair and making her breakfast every morning as a child – was standing with her.
“Sparkle, she loves her family, they need to know them,” Mr Edwards said. “I love them too, but the truth – the truth is at the end of the day, and that's all it is.” T
Mr. Kelly was acquitted on all charges in 2008. Sparkle's niece never showed, and his lawyers successfully argued that the identity of the people in the video was unknown.
Now, Chicago prosecutors say that a tape has another surface showing that Mr Kelly has sex with the same girl. Mr Kelly was he was arrested in February for charges relating to four alleged victims, and while any trial may still be a year away, the tape is a critical piece of evidence where his case might be the strongest case in his case. against. Sparkle said she had seen the video stall and it was obvious that it was a different record of the same people. Michael Avenatti, the famous lawyer who gave the tape to prosecutors, said that the people talk about tape about the body parts of 14 years of age.
But Mr Avenatti is now facing Legal troubles of his own, and federal prosecutors accused him of stealing money from clients and persuading his income for the I .. and in a bankruptcy court. Mr Avenatti denied all the allegations against him and suggested that the case was politically motivated. (He has represented Stormy Daniels in disputes against President Trump.) “Any charges before me are unrelated to the R. Kelly case and I will have no influence,” said Mr Avenatti. . “Greenberg is desperate,” he said, referring to Steven Greenberg, Mr Kelly's lawyer.
Mr Greenberg asked the judge all electronic communications between Mr Avenatti and the prosecutors. Mr Greenberg suggested that Mr Avenatti may “Reorganize” County Cook County Solicitor Kimberly M. Foxx.
Friction between Edwards 'family members began to decline when Mr Kelly's trial was over, and in 2011, when planning their parents' 50th wedding anniversary, the siblings began to speak again. But within her new calm, anything that belonged to Mr Kelly was discussed, even as her legal brother continued to play guitar professionally. When Sparkle tried to talk to her sister about what happened, her sister would only say, “God likes.”
In recent years, as Sparkle saw the #MeToo movement at shaking the country, she did not expect that she would come to Mr. Kelly.
“I don't think it was for us,” she said, “to black people.”
Filmmaker Dream Hampton then reached Sparkle to ask if she would take part in a documentary about Mr Kelly which would give an insight into his alleged history of abuse of girls and women. Sparkle said that she agreed to participate when she was informed that her story would be in the documentary, whether or not. She said she didn't want another person to do it wrong.
So, she interviewed what happened as “R Kelly's Survival.” The review came from the documentary against Mr Kelly when he was released in January, which increased public pressure on law enforcement to proceed. It was fast which fell on his record label.
However, the Sparkle did not tell the family that the documentary was coming. Her mother had dementia and her health was failing.
“I didn't want my mother to end this,” she said.
Today, just after her mother died, the trailer “Surviving R. Kelly” was released, and Sparkle was there. Her sister texted her and told them to leave them alone. Bennie Edwards and her brother, Lee, are the only two of her five brothers and sisters now talking to her.
She was criticized for trying to use the film with her new single, “We Are Ready,” she said, but she is a singer, and this is how she processes her life. It is planned to release a “obstacle course” for the first time in almost 20 years this summer.
“You know, I was thinking back to time, MeToo had previously,” she says on her new single, “I was just with me.”