Singer Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, one of the first people to speak out against R. Kelly, has come forward to share her feelings about his recent conviction. On September 27, the disgraced R&B singer, songwriter and producer was convicted of one count of racketeering, 14 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking charges and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act.
“I didn’t think I would be emotional,” she said. “But I am. It’s just been a long time for me, dealing with this. On the one hand, I think I’m a little sad because Robert was my ex-mentor and what he did was just a punch to my chest. And I’m also relieved. Thank God they got it right this time. At the first trial, nobody believed me. I hope all the girls, boys, and women affected by him are also breathing a sigh of relief. There’s finally some justice, though we have to wait and see what the sentence is. I was the Lone Ranger at first, and now I have my riders behind me.”
Edwards spoke against her former mentor ever since she found out that her teenage niece was the one in the infamous sex tape that led to Kelly being on trial in 2008 on child pornography charges. When she remained firm in her allegations against him and testified in the trial, she said she not only lost her family but her career as well. Being blackballed from the music industry caused her to be homeless at one point.
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“My career was shattered,” she said. “It used to be, ‘Everybody loves Sparkle. She’s dope’. They called me ‘Little Diana’, after Diana Ross. But when people heard I wasn’t on Robert’s side, they disappeared. It felt like that Homer Simpson GIF where he just backs into the bushes. Robert was so powerful in the industry, they didn’t care what he was doing. For the next 18 years I only put out a couple of songs. I felt disgusted with the music business. I did a lot of private events and made a few dollars. But at one point I was homeless, crashing at my friend’s place.”
Her niece and her sister and brother-in-law, who Kelly was accused of paying off so they wouldn’t testify in his 2008 trial, shut Edwards out and never spoke to her again. She said when her brother-in-law died, she went to the funeral and her sister and niece didn’t acknowledge her. They are still estranged till this day. She said her niece is now in her thirties and has a son.
“We’re not in contact, but I’m definitely thinking of her and hoping that she’s okay,” she said. “Even if she doesn’t feel the same about me.”
When she was asked to participate in the 2019 Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, she was hesitant at first because she had lost so much. She had even gotten reconnected with her family again. When producers told her she was mentioned whether she participated or not she agreed to be involved so she could accurately tell her side.
“I wasn’t looking to stir things up again, but the producers of Surviving R. Kelly said they were going to include me whether I was part of it or not,” she said. “I didn’t want anybody lying on me or telling my story, so I said yes.”
Unfortunately, her participation in the documentary led to her being the black sheep once again.
Kelly still has another trial to face in Chicago and Edwards is hoping that she isn’t called to testify.
“I’m praying I’m not called to testify at another trial, because I’ve already said my truth. But if I am, I will surely be there to share it all over again. I do have more to say, and more insights into what happened. I lost it all, but I’ve made gains as well.”