Childhood trauma has shaped some of the greatest creative minds of our time. Robert Kelly’s life and its moving story is no exception.

Childhood trauma has shaped some of the greatest creative minds of our time. Robert Kelly’s life and its moving story is no exception.

In his memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me by R. Kelly, published by Smiley Books, Kelly reveals his poignant story through short but powerful vignettes. The lyrical way he describes people, places and events had me looking up from time to time sure that any moment he would leap from the pages and belt out the very words I was reading.

Soulacoaster, the diary of Rob Kelly, tells you of his loves, his hopes, his failures and his dreams. His references to aliens and his multi-platinum “I Believe I Can Fly” tells me he may know more about outer space than we realize. His music tells us he definitely knows more about the inner spaces of love and life in the beautiful, complex and strange world known as the hood than any artist of his genre.

He tells his story from beginning to the present, including his basketball jones and love for Andrea Lee, his former wife and mother of his children.

I could see his momma and his future from the opening paragraph. Strong, talented momma, great loss and disability, and exposure to the exciting, unforgettable, myth-making culture of Black Chicago is nothing but a recipe for success.

I would be cheating though if I didn’t provide the secret ingredients to this recipe for success. Robert Kelly came on this Earth with an unshakeable confidence and competitive spirit. Anyone who has achieved anything will tell you these characteristics make the difference in how life separates the winners from the losers. Don’t be confused by shyness or a quiet demeanor, still waters do run deep. Creative people become great because they do not hesitate to trouble those waters.

It’s the trouble that causes the dip in the Soulacoaster to nearly jump its tracks. When the now infamous video began to circulate and the subsequent trial ensued, Robert Kelly stepped into a major crossroad experience that would call for all of the help life offers.

Mommas and grandmommas, alive or in heaven, excellent attorneys, top shelf public relations folks, devoted fans and for Rob: Jesus, the unrelenting press, haters and opportunists milked this story for all it was worth and then some. Shame was heaped upon Kelly like praise had been only a short time before.

Twelve “Thank you Jesus,” one for each “Not Guilty” verdict, and in America once we have been tried by a jury of our peers and found not guilty, we are free. Or, are we?

In his own words: “Even though I’ve had some struggles and downfalls in my music and in my life, I’m still standing. Strong confident and feeling good about life and love, it has made me the man I am today.

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