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R. Kelly performs in his "Mr. Show Biz Presents: The Light it Up Tour." Via Wikimedia Commons.

R. Kelly will not headline Columbus Music festival following controversy

R. Kelly is no longer the headliner of the Fashion Meets Music Festival.

It took the departure of two Columbus bands, Saintseneca and Damn the Witch Siren and Columbus’s WCBE 90.5 radio station to leave as a sponsor and a bunch of social media chatter but he’s no longer performing at the festival.

“The motto of FMMF is ‘Three Days, Two Loves, One Place’ and we recognized that the ‘One Place’ needed to be heard,” Melissa Dickson, Communications Director for FMMF, said in a press release.  “Our artist lineup remains strong and we can’t wait to kick things off next month.”

The Columbus festival kicks off its inaugural event on Friday Aug. 29,

trying to combine the city’s underappreciated fashion market with a thriving music scene for an experience similar to SXSW

. But the festival came under fire with the announcement of R. Kelly as its headliner.

Criticism was directed at Fashion Meets Music Festival because of R. Kelly’s allegations involving child pornography and statutory rape that Kelly was acquitted of in 2008.

Damn the Witch Siren was the first to leave the festival, soon followed by Saintseneca. Both Columbus bands were announced long before R. Kelly was selected as the festival’s headliner.

“Let's make Columbus, Ohio the place where men respect women, and all are equal, and everyone has the right to be who they want to be and marry who they want to marry and can walk down the street at night and feel safe,”

Damn the Witch Siren wrote on its website as the band announced it was leaving the festival.

Saintseneca posted a similar statement on their website when they decided to leave the festival on July 22.

“We feel his selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault,” the band wrote. “We feel it is an affront to all survivors, who are already often overlooked and forgotten in our society.”

WCBE 90.5 decided to leave as a sponsor to the festival because of the station's wish to serve the interest of the community and because they are part of Columbus City Schools, general manager Dan Mushalko said in

a story in

Columbus Alive!


R. Kelly’s performance was intended to be a ticketed performance along with other similar shows including O.A.R., Rusko and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child.

There are also bands performing for free, including Cold War Kids, Local Natives and Switchfoot along with many Columbus bands involved. There will also be an after party that includes bands like Future Islands, The Menzingers and Maps & Atlases.

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