Robert Sylvester Kelly (born January 8, 1967), better known by his stage name R. Kelly, is an American R&B singer-songwriter, arranger, performer and record producer. Debuting in 1992 with the group Public Announcement, Kelly went solo in 1993 with the album 12 Play. He is known for a collection of major hit singles including "Bump N' Grind", "Your Body's Callin'", "I Believe I Can Fly", "Gotham City", "Ignition (Remix)", "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time", "The World's Greatest", "I'm a Flirt", and the hip-hopera "Trapped in the Closet". In 1998, Kelly won three Grammy Awards for "I Believe I Can Fly".
Kelly has also written, produced and remixed songs for many artists including Ronald Isley and The Isley Brothers, The Winans, Charlie Wilson, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Vanessa L. Williams, N-Phase, Changing Faces (group), Aaliyah, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Celine Dion, gospel group Trin-I-Tee 5:7, Hi-Five, 112 (band), K-Ci & JoJo of Jodeci, Gerald Levert, Michael Jackson, Maxwell (musician), Syleena Johnson, Kelly Price, Brian McKnight, Trisha Yearwood, Tamia, Nivea, Britney Spears, Usher, Ray J, Mary J. Blige, Joe (singer), Ginuwine, Tyrese, Twista, Cassidy, Ciara, DJ Quik, B2K, Nick Cannon, Jennifer Lopez, and Marques Houston among others.
Born on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, Kelly was the third of four children. Kelly's single mother, Joanne, was a singer and a Baptist. Kelly's father was absent throughout most of Kelly's life. Kelly began singing in church at age eight. In Chicago, Kelly's family lived in the projects at 63rd Street before relocating to a small house at 107th and Parnell Streets. Kelly entered Kenwood Academy in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood in the fall of 1980 where he met his music teacher Lena McLin, who encouraged Kelly to perform the Stevie Wonder classic Ribbon in the Sky in a highschool talent show. As a teenager, Kelly began street performing (or busking) under the Chicago 'L' trains before he eventually formed a group with his friend Marc McWilliams. In 1989, Kelly and McWilliams formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men). Along with Vincent Corey Walker and Shawnth Brooks, Kelly performed on the TV talent show Big Break, hosted by Natalie Cole, and went on to win the $100,000 grand prize.