BY MORGAN GREENE
CHICAGO – Singer-songwriter Erykah Badu was booed by a Chicago crowd after bringing up R. Kelly at a night concert in his hometown, according to fans in attendance.
A few songs into her show on Jan. 19 at the Aragon Ballroom, Badu took a break from her set to talk about Kelly, who continues to face fallout from “Surviving R. Kelly,” the Lifetime documentary series that spotlighted decades of abuse allegations against the singer.
Venessa Gonzalez, 35, said she flew into Chicago from Los Angeles for the concert to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
“She starts off the concert, and everything’s going great,” Gonzalez said. “Midshow, she decided to bring up R. Kelly and how Chicago feels about R. Kelly and everybody started booing.”
“I’m putting up a prayer right now for R.,” Badu said, according to videos posted on social media.
The singer redirected the audience from criticizing Kelly, saying, “
“It almost felt like a quick interlude but not really,” Gonzalez said. “There wasn’t even music playing in the background.”
Badu then wondered aloud if one of Kelly’s alleged victims would also be crucified if she grew up to be an offender.
“It’s just something to think about,” Badu said.
“The crowd, we were all just kind of looking at each other like, is this happening right now?” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said she watched “Surviving R. Kelly” and was surprised that Badu would talk about Kelly in Chicago.
“I think it’s a sensitive topic for Chicagoans right now,” Gonzalez said. “Everybody’s looking at you guys in a fishbowl.
“Chicago condoned the behavior for so long, or supported him knowingly, and so after this documentary came out it really kind of put the looking glass on Chicago for all outsiders,” Gonzalez said.
On Sunday, Badu appeared to clarify her comments on Twitter: “I love you. Unconditionally. That doesn’t mean I support your poor choices. I want healing for you and anyone you have hurt as a result of you being hurt. Is that strange to you? That’s all I’ve ever said. Anything else has been fabricated or taken out of context.”
Badu’s comments followed reports that Sony Music dropped Kelly, and an accuser’s appearance on a “Dateline NBC” special.
In Chicago, building inspectors found evidence that Kelly’s Near West Side studio was used as a residence even though it was not zoned for that purpose.
As part of a separate eviction lawsuit, Kelly has until early next week to pay nearly $175,000 in back rent and other costs to avoid being evicted.
Kelly is reportedly under criminal investigation in Georgia, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has asked alleged victims to come forward.
Chicago’s Cook County prosecutors indicted Kelly on child pornography charges alleging that he took a video of himself having sex with a girl estimated to be as young as 13, but a jury acquitted him of all charges in 2008.
Badu, who has collaborated with Kelly and introduced him at the 2015 Soul Train Awards as having done more for Black people than anyone, reportedly declined to be interviewed for the Lifetime documentary.