The real reason R. Kelly cancelled

2013-03-26 09:19

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Sluggish ticket sales and logistical nightmares have brought the highly-anticipated South African leg of R. Kelly’s Single Ladies Tour to its knees.

The US R&B superstar was scheduled to perform at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium on Thursday night, and at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday night.

Local music lovers are still reeling from the shock of the sudden cancellation.

This would have been R. Kelly’s third trip to South Africa – he was here in 2009 for Africa Fashion Week and then for the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup.

R. Kelly, who calls himself the Pied Piper of R&B and the “R” in R&B, is a multiple Grammy Award winner and nominee who has sold more than 40 million albums.

He has racked up mega hits including I Believe I Can Fly, Gotham City, I Wish, and When A Woman Is Fed Up. He is also famous for his fear of flying.

Promoter Sabata Lechema of Afropulse Entertainment said he wanted to put up the best possible show for a “true performer of R. Kelly’s calibre” but the problems he encountered forced him to postpone it.

One of the obstacles was the fact that Orlando Stadium didn’t have enough parking and there was a need to provide a park and ride facility which included train services to Orlando station and premium trains from Cape Town via Bloemfontein and Kimberley.

Cash-strapped fans also didn’t help matters.

Out of 37 000 tickets available at Orlando Stadium, just less than half were sold. The ticket sales were even worse at the 30 000-capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium – “much less than half” were sold.

“We have realised that the timing was not ideal and people had other priorities that come with January expenses and back to school,” he said. “The postponement offers his fans an opportunity to buy tickets.

“With the time we had left we felt that the show would not do justice to Robert. He wants to put up the best concert of his life when he gets here,” he said.

Lechema insists the decision he reached with R. Kelly’s management was an amicable one.

The shows are now scheduled for August 8 and 10 at Orlando Stadium and Moses Mabhida respectively.

Lechema apologised to fans who already have tickets and for the inconvenience of having to rearrange any travel plans.

“The new date fits perfectly with the long weekend and Women’s Day celebrations. All this resonates well with the tour title,” said Lechema.

The tickets already bought are valid for the shows in August and there has been an arrangement to swap cities or get a full refund.

The cheapest ticket goes for R450 with VIP hospitality packages priced from R2 700.

Sony Music, which represents R. Kelly’s label RCA in South Africa, declined to comment.

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