R. Kelly performed at a benefit concert Wednesday (October 14) in Chicago to honor his childhood music teacher, Lena McLin.
The singer is touring to promote his forthcoming album, The Buffet, and stopped in his hometown to help raise money for her to keep her apartment. The building in which she lives is being converted into condos and the retired teacher could not afford to keep her home with her pension.
“On the first day I met her, Ms. McLin told me, ‘You’re going to be one of the greatest singers, songwriters and performers of all time,’” R. Kelly says to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I thought the lady was crazy.”
McLin, who has worked with Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Da Brat, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, became a mentor to R. Kelly. The singer remembers performing on stage for the first time after thinking he wanted to be a professional basketball player when he grew up.
“I was like, ‘What’s going on? Why are these people screaming?’” he says. “I remember thinking I’d never gotten that kind of feeling on the basketball court. From that day, life as I knew it was never the same. I felt like Peter Parker bit by the spider, and I’ve been spraying webs ever since, thanks to Ms. McLin.”
Kelly donated a portion of the ticket sales from the concert to raise money for McLin. He says that with his donation and a GoFundMe crowd source campaign that was launched to help McLin enough money was raised for her to pay for the condo conversion.