From the ’hood to the biggest stage

2010-06-12 09:07

For someone who has just recently discovered soccer, R Kelly has

his talent and star ­power to thank for ­being the major attraction at the

soccer World Cup opening ­ceremony.

While there are many ­musicians across the world whose love for

soccer is well documented and who would have fitted the bill, it’s the R&B

hit-maker whose ­composition, Sign of a ­Victory, was chosen for ­Friday

afternoon’s ceremony before kick-off.

Speaking on the eve of his big performance, Kelly said he had to

work hard to get into the World Cup groove.

He said: “I grew up in South Central Chicago in poverty. We used to

kick whatever we could find, ­including each other.

“Basketball was the thing then. We’d watch some ­snippets of soccer

on TV but I mean I didn’t even know the rules of the game. I just remember as a

12- or 13-year-old waiting for the ball to go behind the net and


“But now I have done my research on the game, done a lot more

reading on how it works and I have ­greater respect for the ­players and the


And now that his song ­has been selected as the anthem for the

biggest sporting event in the world, the man – known as the ‘R’ in R&B – has

been bragging about it: “This is my World Cup. It’s the biggest thing I’ve been

­involved in.”

In ­composing and ­recording the song, Kelly transformed his house

to ­resemble Africa: “I put in a lot of grass, got ­African books and stuffed

animals. I wore outfits from Africa to get the spirit of the continent.

“Everyone who wanted to be in that space had to wear something


He says although Sign of a Victory will be known for the World Cup,

it will ­continue to inspire people ­beyond July 11.

Furthermore, Kelly – who has penned some of the most inspirational

songs of all time such as I Believe I Can Fly and Storm is Over – said he hoped

to contribute to world peace and raise ­issues about global warming with this

song and the ­unity that comes with the World Cup.

On Sign of a Victory, he is backed by Soweto Spiritual Singers,

whom he calls “a beautiful choir”.

The song was released as part of Listen Up, the ­official World Cup


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