Robert Sylvester Kelly was born in Chicago, Illinois, in January 1967. Kelly had his first experience with singing attending church as a youth and later became a street performer in Chicago subway stations. With friend Marc McWilliams, Kelly formed the group Musically Gifted Men in 1990 and won $100,000 on the Natalie Cole show Big Break. The next year, Kelly was signed to Jive Records and formed the New Jack Swing band Public Announcement.
Kelly and Public Announcement released their debut album, Born Into the 90's, in 1992. The album was a hit among R&B listeners, landing at #2 on the R&B charts, but also did moderately well on mainstream radio. It gave R. Kelly his first hit singles, "She's Got That Vibe," "Honey Love" and "Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ)." After the album was released, Kelly split with Public Announcement and went solo. Taking his career in a new direction, Kelly released 12 Play in 1993. The album turned the fledgling singer into a superstar nearly overnight. Spawning classic singles such as "Your Body's Callin'," "Bump N' Grind," and "Sex Me," it shot up to #2 on the Billboard 200 and eventually attained 6x platinum.
His subsequent albums, R. Kelly and R., at 5x and 8x platinum respectively, only expanded his staying power and made R. Kelly one of the best selling artists of the '90s. Kelly's work had always had some success on mainstream pop radio, but the 1996 release of "I Believe I Can Fly," for the Space Jam movie soundtrack, has been his best crossover success to date. The singer's light could not be diminished as the world transitioned into the 21st century. Albums TP-2.com, Chocolate Factory, and Happy People/U Saved Me all went multi-platinum and landed in the Top 2 on the Billboard 200. Kelly has worked with many fellow R&B, rock, and pop artists, including Jay-Z, Celine Dion, Maxwell, Beyonce, and 50 Cent.