Sparkle is back after ten years away from the music scene. The singer talks to Gumbumper.com about making a return to music and her fall out with R. Kelly, his sex abuse trial, resulting in her decision to walk away from her career.
How did you get the name Sparkle and do your circle of friends call you Sparkle or Stephanie?
The name Sparkle* came from Robert (R. Kelly). He thought the name was fitting for me and started calling me Sparkle.. saying, I always had it in my eyes… I know right! Some of my friends call me ‘Spark’, others [people] call me Steph, and that special someone calls me Ms. Jenkins! .. Hahaa.. don’t ask!!
R Kelly and his Rockland label were integral in the success of your “Sparkle” album, however, you made the decision to forego that recipe for success on your second album, “Told You So,” due to creative differences. Can you elaborate on that?
No question! Robert [Rockland] was indeed a key to success on the ‘Sparkle’ album, however me working with other producers on my next project was discussed with him and approved early on, then once it became time to start my 2nd project, other producers were an absolute no can do! Leaving Rockland wasn’t an easy decision, but giving some other decisions Robert had vetoed of mine that had not much to do with music concerning me, I knew his grip was getting tighter and things would only get worse (if you can imagine that), so I asked to be released! Asking for the release was in effort to save our personal relationship, because no matter whom or where I was, I had intended on working with him again.
Given that you ultimately ended up having to testify against R Kelly in the child pornography case in 2008 identifying that the minor in the video with him was your niece (age 14 when the video was made), did ending that relationship when you did make it any less difficult to testify against him or do you feel whether or not you were still working with him deciding to testify wouldn’t have been a struggle because that was your niece/minor in the video?
No, it was extremely difficult, but it had nothing to do with where I was professionally at all! First off, people need to realize, I considered Robert family, weather I was with Rockland, without Rockland, or whatever! My [initial] reaction, I didn’t consider anyone, but the ‘alleged’ child!
Do you feel the drama surrounding that trial overshadowed the successes you achieved? I’m sure it must get draining always being asked about that time in your life; how do you deal with it and did you find closure from it?
No, I don’t feel the drama overshadowed my successes. The trial itself was huge because who was on trial…R. Kelly/music royalty. These celebrity criminal trials were the prequal to reality TV. Its shown how invested in celebrity life we’d become… First it was O.J., then M.J., now R. Kelly. These trials were reality TV at it’s best. As far as being constantly asked, I deal with it because, me returning to music, it helps explain my extended removal time. Only for a limited time, then I’ll be done discussing it! Coming back to music, I sort of expect it to be a topic of discussion.
Head over to Gumbumper for the full and exclusive interview.