R. Kelly has had a big week of new music and soul-baring — and soul-baring new music. He recently delivered an excerpt of his memoir, detailing a tearful meeting with Michael Jackson. Then he sat down for an interview to explain why his new album is for happy people with pure thoughts.
Kelly, who has admitted that he has trouble reading, will release his long-awaited memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, on Thursday (June 28). In an excerpt posted at People.com, he explains what it was like for him to work with Jackson. Kelly wrote “You Are Not Alone” from Jackson’s 1995 album, HIStory.
“The day finally came. I got to the studio two hours early. Thirty minutes and several phone calls from Jackson’s people later, the legendary singer arrives. He looked at least eight feet tall. He looked like an avatar. He was wearing a black mask over his face. Only his eyes were showing. “Finally, Mike walked over to me. He looked in my eyes, opened his arms, and gave me the hug of my life, whispering to me in his lighter-than-air, soft, high voice. ‘The world’s gonna be singing this song.’ I blurted out something silly like, ‘Congratulations on everything you’ve done, Mike. Congratulations on being Michael Jackson.'”
When Jackson said he loved the song and Kelly captured him “beautifully,” Kelly explained how he got emotional.
“‘If you excuse me for a minute,’ I said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ I walked to the bathroom and just fell out on the floor. I broke down and cried. It wasn’t that Michael Jackson was singing my song; it was that Michael had felt how I’d caught his spirit.”
Tavis Smiley, the African-American activist and PBS host who received criticism early on for his role in publishing Kelly’s memoir through his Smiley Books imprint, sat with Kells for an interview about his music.
“It’s a feel-good album, it touches the soul and wakes up the spirit in a very positive way,” he told Smiley. “You feel good from the moment it turns on until it goes off.”
He went on to explain how the album represents a brighter side of life.
“My mother used to say, when you are in the midst of drama, there is so much going on here in Chicago… kids and people killing each other. When it’s like that she would say, ‘Think Good thoughts.’ Write Me back, Love Letter. These are my good thoughts.”
Read more from Soulacoaster here. Check out his interview with Smiley below. –-Erik Parker, CBS Local