he 2017 Soulquarius Festival has a stacked lineup, including such artists as Erykah Badu, DMX, The Pharcyde, Too Short, The Internet and Ja Rule. But the festival’s booking of R. Kelly is already coming under fire. A Change.org petition has been launched in an attempt to remove the controversial singer from the bill.
“Despite an endless flood of abuse allegations and widespread knowledge of his notorious ‘romance’ with the late singer Aaliyah, who was age 15 to his 27 years, Kelly has maintained a relatively successful career,” the petition reads. “It’s this sort of nonchalance and casual embrace of abusers that rests at the fulcrum of rape culture, violence against women, and in this case, misogynoir.”
The petition’s creator, Jamie Thompson, says giving R. Kelly such a platform is a mistake. Thompson suggests that it is not possible to separate the man from the music.
“2017 is around the corner and many of us still have to look on in disgust as a proven predator, rapist, and serial abuser of young Black girls and women remains embraced in the world of music,’ the petition states. “Stop booking this man. Stop supporting this man. There’s great power in having a voice. Let’s send a message that the music is not ‘separate’ and the abuse of girls and women is *never* okay, no matter who you are or how many timeless ballads you’ve contributed to the world.”
The 2017 Soulquarius Festival is scheduled to take place on Feb. 18 at the Observatory Grounds in Orange County in Santa Ana, Calif.