Drea Kelly Refuse To Change Her Last Name Despite Backlash: ‘I Earned This Name’

When R. Kelly decided to act on his horrific desires, he not only put many turmoil, but his family faced overwhelming shame and embarrassment. But despite all the disgraced singer has placed his former wife, Drea Kelly, and children through, she is coming forward with a declaration. Drea Kelly is standing by her last name.

Born Andrea Lee, Drea Kelly – as she’s professionally known, began her life with R. Kelly after becoming his choreographer and backup dancer during “The 12 Play Very Necessary Tour.” The pair got married in 1996 and share three children together. However, “happily ever after” was cut short within a decade of their marriage.According to Essence, Drea Kelly wanted out of their marriage in 2005 and told R. Kelly, which drew a violent reaction. Because of this, she filed an order of protection against the “You Remind Me Of Something” singer. Kelly then filed for divorce in 2006.

Drea Kelly has been known to hold back on speaking ill of her ex-husband in the media, mainly because of their children. However, speaking with Essence in 2007, Drea Kellly expressed that despite the mounting claims against R. Kelly, her reasons for wanting out of their marriage were due to them “growing up and growing apart.” However, she said that no matter what, “Whatever happens to us, I will love that man to the day I die.”

As for R. Kelly’s three children with Drea Kelly – Jay Kelly, Joann Kelly (known now as Buku Abi), and Robert Kelly Jr., the singer has been estranged from them for years. In 2014, Jay Kelly came out as transgender on his social media in a since-deleted post. According to The Daily Mail, he also revealed he hadn’t heard from his famous father. In addition, daughter Buku Abi wrote a lengthy Instagram Story post captured by CNN that “devastated is an understatement” for all that she felt surrounding her father. She further offered her prayers for all of the victims and their families that had been affected.

Buku Abi also revealed that she hadn’t been in contact with R. Kelly. Not only has the relationship between the two been nonexistent, but she also stated that she refuses to “speak on him or on his behalf.” During an appearance on Good Morning Britain in 2019, Buku Abi described her feelings as being “hard to digest.” However, she acknowledged the difficulty was due to R. Kelly still being her father, and she didn’t want to come off as though she was “bashing” or “hating” her father.  

“If my father is a toxic person, then, unfortunately, we just have to love him from a distance,” said Buku Abi. Additionally, she maintained that it’d been years since she had seen or spoken to R. Kelly. However, the last known public appearance with the father and daughter duo was on his 2015 album The Buffet, where R. Kelly featured her on the song “Wanna Be There.” At the time, she was going under the stage name Ariirayé.

R. Kelly has been found guilty of his crimes and recently sentenced to 30 years in his Brooklyn federal trial. As he awaits his upcoming trial in Chicago, Drea Kelly is speaking up about her ex-husband again. During a recent sit-down interview on Turnt Out with TS Madison, Drea Kelly had quite a lot to say. First, she insists that despite all that’s going on, she has zero regrets about marrying him in 1996. The Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta star shared that her marriage to the disgraced singer brought forth three beautiful children, which is why she is grateful. “I sit in a special place. I’m a survivor,” said Drea Kelly. She explained that if she were to “regret ever meeting him means I regret my children.”

She then addressed those scrutinizing her for not dropping her married name and going by her maiden name. “My last name is not a car lease; You don’t turn it in at the end of a marriage,” said Drea Kelly. However, she insists that she “earned” the name and that outsiders should redirect their focus.  Drea Kelly speaks on the violence she experienced within her own family as a child. She explains that her experiences developed a “silence” within her regarding DV instances. “God, love, and pain. That’s all I knew as a little girl,” she said.

About John Davidson

John Davidson is a California native who enjoys hip hop music, skiing and traveling international. Davidson graduated from USC majoring in Journalism.

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