R Kelly gives defiant performance amid protests in North Carolina

R Kelly gives defiant performance amid protests in North Carolina

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R&B singer R Kelly took defiantly to the stage in the US state of North Carolina amid a campaign over his treatment of women.

The singer told the crowd on Friday night that he had “been through a lot” in recent days before launching into a number of sexually suggestive songs.

Protesters demonstrated outside the venue against Kelly, who has been accused of sexual misconduct.

The singer denies wrongdoing and is not facing any criminal charges.

In one of his first performances since a campaign against him was launched, Kelly thanked his supporters at the Greensboro Coliseum for continuing to “fight for me”.

He added that he had been asked to perform a more low key set before breaking into sexually explicit songs and at one point rubbing a fan’s smartphone between his legs, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reports.

Kelly, 51, was removed from Spotify playlists this week as part of the streaming service’s new “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy, who has been hit with a number of allegations including trapping women in a sex “cult”.

He has recently been targeted by the #MuteRKelly campaign, which calls for the singer to be boycotted.

The campaign gained momentum last week when it was picked up by the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment.

Time’s Up has called for “appropriate investigations… into the allegations of R Kelly’s abuse made by women of colour”. He denies the allegations and has said he “supports the pro-women goals” of the movement.

In April, Kelly faced a fresh allegation of sexual misconduct from a former partner who said he “intentionally” infected her with a sexually transmitted disease.

In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of 14 charges of making child pornography after a videotape emerged allegedly showing him having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Kelly is one of the most successful R&B artists of all time, with 40 million records sold worldwide. His best known hits include I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition (Remix).