Sparkle, a/k/a the #VoiceOfReason’s single “We Are Ready” (W.A.R.) encompasses a powerful woman’s mindset, that women of all ethnicities should be proud to adopt. While Sparkle’s single inspires, it also speaks of the subtle misfortune that women of color have not been appropriately embraced as part of the #MeToo movement. Sparkle’s perspective and all too real stories regarding her estranged and embattled former mentor, R. Kelly were featured in the Lifetime Network’s highly proclaimed, Emmy nominated documentary, Surviving R. Kelly.
Sparkle, once a part of Kelly’s production team, was the face and voice that launched his Rockland Records imprint. Sparkle learned a great deal from Kelly regarding writing methods, performance and studio techniques. In return, Kelly utilized Sparkle’s pitch perfect voice to reference many of the female songs he’d written that was eventually recorded by Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, and the angel, Aaliyah.
Sparkle launched Kelly’s Rockland Records label with a certified platinum self-titled project and a #1 single “Be Careful”. When initially released ‘Be Careful’ shot to Billboard’s #1 spot on its Rap & R&B Charts and stayed there for 6 consecutive weeks. ‘Be Careful’ is a soulful sung argument between Sparkle and (featured artist) R. Kelly. The song creatively addresses factors that played into the onscreen couple’s failing relationship. The back and forth between the two was merely a scratch on the surface of what was to come. Who could predict that Sparkle’s first single, ‘Be Careful’ would serve as a premonition of her journey with former mentor and beyond? Sparkle melodically warns, “You better be careful what you do to me, because it might turn around on you!” Surely a sign of what was on the horizon for Sparkle when she testified against R.Kelly in the 2008 trial.
Sparkle’s shero-ic story of speaking against him at a time when Kelly possessed massive amounts of resources, influence, connections, money, and power in the business she too was trying to make a living, was costly. It was prior to the advent of social media, so Sparkle’s declaration of W.A.R. against Kelly was limited to the courtroom and a Kelly sympathetic press and fan base. Power and money controlled the narrative and Kelly had both. Sparkle’s bravery back then could have saved more underage young girls from being victimized by Kelly had she not been written off as a former disgruntled artist by both Kelly and those with financial interests in his success. As a result of Sparkle’s strong moral compass, she lost the connection with her family for 10+ years, all because she wouldn’t waiver on the truth.
Even though Sparkle, the original #MeToo survivor of R. Kelly, suffered only from a career and business standpoint, in 2018 Lifetime called for Sparkle’s participation in a documentary on R. Kelly’s life. Executives at the Lifetime network needed to validate the culturally riveting documentary series, ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ and Sparkle was their answer! Unlike any participant in the series, Sparkle, the ‘Be Careful’ singer had a well documented history of declaring ‘W.A.R.’ on Kelly for what she knew to be inappropriate sexual behavior towards minors, one of which was her family member. This was long before the masses were in support of the movement and before a documentary of Kelly’s indiscretions was ever thought of being produced. Sparkle was the only recording artist and public figure then willing to go on record and ultimately testify on Kelly’s abuse and predatory behaviors towards women and underage girls.
Sparkle was dubbed the #VoiceOfReason because of her stance against former mentor R. Kelly when it was unpopular to do so. Unwilling to let a musical giant silence her, Sparkle’s endurance, resilience, and sacrifice has seen her through and is clearly evidenced by her newest musical work, “Obstacle Course”, which is set to drop summer 2020. The return of Sparkle’s voice is perfect timing. Musically, she hasn’t missed a beat, but her voice for the voiceless is now clearer than ever. The masses have finally caught up to what Sparkle was saying all along about Kelly. The #MeToo movement is finally assisting Sparkle in assuring that the victimized or voiceless females are heard and supported.
Sparkle still remains ahead of the fray. While the world is finally digesting the fact that they overlooked fair warnings from Sparkle, she remains true to her course of helping victims and spreading awareness while performing and public speaking. In Sparkle’s new hit single “We Are Ready”, Sparkle notes, “before it was a #METOO, it was just… #Me!”