Silent treatment worries family of R. Kelly’s wife
First published April 8, 2003: R&B singer R. Kelly’s wife, Andrea Lee Kelly, hasn’t spoken to her mother, grandfather or aunt since the singer’s sex scandal broke.
This article originally appeared as written in the April 8, 2003 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Despite his legal troubles, R. Kelly is on a public relations roll. After the E2 nightclub tragedy, Kelly stepped up and donated $63,000 to the families of the 21 victims. Given that most of the victims were young and uninsured, the money made a big difference to the grieving families.
Last week, Kelly scored points again, by releasing a new song to show support for the members of the military fighting in Iraq.
“This song is my way of saying thank you to everyone protecting us, and allowing us to sleep comfortable at night and send our children off to school in the morning,” Kelly said in a news release.
Proceeds from “A Soldier’s Heart” will go to support the soldiers’ families, according to Kelly’s official Web site.
But there’s something else the public should know.
While Kelly may understand how difficult it is for military families to cope when they are estranged from loved ones, he apparently is not as understanding when the problem is a lot closer to home.
His wife, Andrea Lee Kelly, hasn’t spoken to her mother, grandfather or aunt since the R. Kelly sex scandal broke.
“The last time I talked to her was over two years ago on the phone,” said Gerri Cruze, Andrea’s mother. “She was crying hysterically and violently. Of course you are worried when you go from talking to a person every day to not talking to them period.”
After that disturbing conversation, Cruze said she was unable to reach her daughter because the telephone numbers were changed. Desperate, she asked the Olympia Fields Police Department to check out the home to make sure her daughter was all right.
Although police verified that Andrea Kelly was fine, Cruze, who currently lives near Atlanta, is planning to move to Chicago to find out why her 29-year-old daughter has broken ties with her family.
“I don’t know if my child is under the influence. I don’t know if she is being controlled. I don’t know if people are watching her. I don’t know if she is being brainwashed,” Cruze said.
I did try to reach Mrs. Kelly myself but couldn’t get past the lawyers. Obviously, I have no way of knowing why Mrs. Kelly is estranged from her relatives. But sources who know her claim she is living in luxury, is happy, and has a nanny for each of her three children.
Cruze isn’t buying it.
“If everything is all right, then she should call her mother and her father,” Cruze said. “I find this behavior bizarre.”
Although there have been published reports about Kelly’s falling out with his own family, Cruze describes the family he married into as “close-knit” and “strong.” She divorced Andrea’s father years ago but has managed to maintain a good relationship with her former in-laws.
“We are a very, very close family, and this is very uncharacteristic of my daughter,” Cruze insisted. “We always communicate. Prior to everything going haywire, that has been a rule in this family.”
“We are just infuriated by this,” Cruze continued. “She is an adult, but my instincts are that this is a control situation.”
Andrea Kelly’s paternal grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Lee, 78, lives a community away from the Kelly family’s Olympia Fields mansion. He also hasn’t been able to see his granddaughter.
“I was there a few minutes ago,” Lee said when he contacted me two weeks ago. “One of the nannies told us that she couldn’t get in touch with her. We haven’t been able to get in touch with Andrea since she had this last baby. We have not seen her, nor have we been offered any visitation. This has really been debilitating for the entire family.”
Franchon Lee, Mrs. Kelly’s aunt, is also concerned.
“Everybody is just upset and freaked out,” she said. “This is very unusual. Andrea is very outgoing and very friendly. If nothing else, she is going to talk to me or her mother.”
Obviously, Andrea Kelly doesn’t have to talk to her mother. She’s a grown woman with a family of her own. There is also no evidence that she is a domestic violence victim or is being held hostage in her own home.
Still, it is understandable that Mrs. Kelly’s family is worried about how this scandal may be affecting her. After all, what mother can read published accounts in which her daughter is described as being treated like a “puppy dog” and not worry about that daughter’s well-being?
“There is a possibility that she doesn’t want to talk us, but I doubt it,” her aunt said. “When this scandal happened, she was so upset and just cried and cried and cried. It was awful. There is no law that can help us get in there and talk to her. But it seems to me when you get in this kind of trouble, you would call your mother and your pastor.”
“I want it to be documented that the fact she is not calling us is not the Andrea we know,” Cruze said. “We know her not calling us is sending a signal that something is wrong.”
I hope this family’s plea doesn’t fall on deaf ears. The least a daughter can do is tell her mother why she isn’t taking her calls.
After all, that’s one way of proving that the freedom her husband is singing about is the freedom she has at home.