R Kelly has denied allegations that he sent an impostor to perform in his place at a recent gig in Louisiana.
2,200 people showed up for Kelly's 26 October appearance in Monroe, Louisiana, each paying between $35 (£22) and $150 (£93) for tickets. Billed as The Black Panties Promo Party - a reference to the title of Kelly's new album - the R&B singer's set reportedly lasted 10 minutes, incorporating only portions of three songs and an original poem. Throughout the whole thing, the performer wore a hoodie, sunglasses and baseball cap, obscuring most of his face.
While many fans were angry about the length of the concert, others accused Kelly and the promoters of hiring a stand-in to headline the event. "Come on now, that was an impersonator," wrote one attendee on Facebook. "R Kelly still got paid because they used his name and likeness." Another gig-goer recalled that "Kelly's" poem had ended with the line: "Y'all just been fucked".
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Kelly vowed that it was "actually me" at the event. But the singer had never agreed to play a concert: he said the promoter, Cedric Johnson, paid for an "appearance", not a "performance". "I don't know who misled or told the people [this was a concert]," he said. "I come off looking like a damn jerk, while [other] people make money."
Johnson doesn't deny that he hired Kelly for an "appearance". "[Kelly] did exactly what he was paid for," Johnson told the Reporter, citing a guarantee of at least $40,000 (£25,000). He also maintains that he "never led anybody wrong", and when making ads for the Black Panties Party, he was careful not to use the word "concert".
As the Reporter points out, after a prospective ticket-buyer asked "is this a party or will r kelly be performing?", a rep for the company wrote: "ITS A PARTY AND HE WILL PERFORM OLD AND NEW SONGS THE ONLY THING IS HE WONT HAVE A LIVE BAND WITH HIM THAT'S ALL YOU WILL SURELY ENJOY YOURSELF."
Johnson is not offering refunds.
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image: © Nicholas Ballasy