After years of suspicion, reckoning for high

In a photo from Wednesday, March, 13, 2019, Paul Riser Sr., a Motown Records alumnus, is seen in Detroit. The dilemma of separating the sides of R. Kelly, who faces 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, now confronts millions who listen to or perform his music. It's perhaps most ađáng yêu when it comes to lớn "I Believe sầu I Can Fly." Riser wrote the orchestral parts for Kelly's hit song và directed the backing musicians in Detroit in the mid-1990s. (APhường Photo/Carlos Osorio)
In a photo from Wednesday, March, 13, 2019, Paul Riser Sr., a Motown Records alumnus, is seen in Detroit. The dilemma of separating the sides of R. Kelly, who faces 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, now confronts millions who listen lớn or perkhung his music. It's perhaps most adễ thương when it comes to lớn "I Believe sầu I Can Fly." Riser wrote the orchestral parts for Kelly's hit song & directed the backing musicians in Detroit in the mid-1990s. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT (AP) — When the recordings of the basic trachồng arrived in Detroit from Chicago, Paul Riser Sr. knew it was time khổng lồ get to lớn work. But the orchestral arranger also knew he had something special to work with.

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“It hit me the same way like everyone else in the world: The lyrics are so simple, the melody is so clear, the chord pattern is wonderful,” said Riser, a Motown Records alum who wrote the orchestra parts and directed the strings & woodwind musicians for “I Believe sầu I Can Fly.” ″That tuy nhiên came from his heart: That’s the other side of R. Kelly.”

The dilemma of separating the sides of Kelly, who faces 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse , now confronts Riser & millions of others who listen lớn or perkhung the singer’s music. It’s perhaps most ađáng yêu when it comes lớn the Grammy-winning ballad that’s made its way inlớn movies such as “Space Jam,” and been performed in countless reality shows, church services, as well as school concerts & graduation ceremonies. Children are even singing it bilingually.


Kelly released his first solo album, “12 Play,” in 1993. It contained such popular sex-themed songs as “Your Body’s Callin’” & “Bump N’ Grind.” But it was the anthem “I Believe I Can Fly” that made the singer from Chicago’s South Side popular beyond R&B music.

The 52-year-old Kelly has faced sex-related accusations before — he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008. But his current case comes in the midst of the #MeToo era, which gained momentum in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood studio trùm Harvey Weinstein & other powerful men inside and outside of entertainment.

Before his arrest last month on the latest charges, Kelly’s reputation & his music were already taking hits , particularly after the release of a Đài truyền hình BBC documentary about hyên ổn last year và the multipart Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which aired in January. A social truyền thông media campaign under the #MuteRKelly hashtag pushed fans to lớn boycott his music and concerts. Music-streaming services stopped promoting his songs.

Some performers & listeners are finding it difficult, though, khổng lồ dismiss the standout cut that vaulted hyên into the mainstream.


Released in 1996, the stirring pop standard “I Believe I Can Fly” spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and peaked at No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. It’s been streamed on-demvà more than 100 million times. In the wake of the Lifetime documentary, Billboard reported Jan. 18 that the song debuted at No. 16 on R&B Digital Song Sales with 2,000 copies sold — the tune’s highest sales week in nearly three years.

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Riser, the Motown alum who worked with Kelly for about a dozen years before meeting hyên in person at a Detroit show, said he’s “troubled” by the allegations và believes Kelly’s accusers. Yet he can’t so easily cast off “a tuy nhiên we all wish we could write.”

“We have sầu to separate that — separate the man & his humanity và his faults and failures ... from his genius,” said Riser, whose credits also include co-writing Jimmy Ruffin’s Motown gem “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” & arranging music and conducting the orchestra on Diamãng cầu Ross’ recording of “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”

Kelly is không lấy phí on bail but faces canceled tours and once-eager venues unwilling lớn book him. He’s also been dropped by his record label, Universal Music Publishing Group.

James Walker Jr., an Atlanta-based entertainment attorney who has represented Riông xã James, Aretha Franklin và others, said Kelly has compromised his own classic.

“The tuy vậy will honestly take a hit now,” said Walker, who adds that he declined a request lớn represent Kelly on publishing . “The financial windfall, as well as just the spiritual, communal and holistic windfall is all going to decline now because of what he has done in his personal life.”

The lakiểm tra allegations against Kelly date back as far as 1998 & span more than a decade. The singer has denied wrongdoing và pleaded not guilty .

Music therapist & teacher Serge El Helou said he didn’t know about that part of Kelly’s history a few years ago when translating the chorus of “I Believe I Can Fly” inkhổng lồ Arabic và bringing it khổng lồ elementary school students he teaches as part of an after-school Arab arts program in Philadelphia run by the nonprofit Al-Busrã Seeds of Culture.

He found the tuy vậy helps children underst& Arabic and offers an uplifting message.

Despite the allegations against Kelly, he said he continues to use the anthem as a teaching tool.

“This year, we added some motions,” he said. “They’re singing the tuy vậy, doing the gesture of flying. They lift their hands — it’s very moving. I’m going to use the tuy nhiên because it’s very inspiring & it’s really working in the classroom.”

One of Kelly’s collaborators is also seeing his reputation and music dissected after the airing of a recent documentary about sexual abuse allegations against him: late pop star Michael Jackson, for whom Kelly wrote the hit “You Are Not Alone.” Fans of Jackson are also grappling with separating the singer from his musical legacy.

For Riser, “I Believe sầu I Can Fly” has a life beyond its creator, who he says found inspiration with the tune but is now “lost” & “too much in denial.”

“It’s just something that everytoàn thân can relate khổng lồ — to know that there’s always something better tomorrow,” Riser said. “It gives hope.”