When Jaah Kelly, the daughter of disgraced singer R. Kelly and Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta star Drea Kelly, came out as a transgender male at age 14, it was traumatic.
Jaah, who now identifies as a lesbian at age 18, told Paper magazine in a recent lengthy interview that her stepping into her truth resulted in her falling into a deep depression, followed by a three-week psychiatric hospital stay.
“When I posted that video, I was so scared,” Jaah told the magazine. “When I was younger, I always felt like I had to make a choice. I knew that I was a girl who liked other girls. But because of what I was taught, I felt like the only way you could like another girl is if you were a boy.”
Four years later, Jaah explained in the magazine’s Pride issue why she now identifies as a lesbian along with nonbinary and gender fluid.
“I identify as a lesbian. I know I like girls, but that’s as far as I’ll go to label myself,” she detailed. “It’s up to you how you see me. Either way, I don’t care. I stand in my truth, and why does my truth need a label?”
Although she refused to talk about her father R. Kelly’s recent headlines, her mother Drea did reveal the musical similarities between the two. In high school, Jaah took to music, playing the trumpet, clarinet and eventually teaching herself how to play piano.
“One thing she gets from her father, true in her DNA, is her ability to create and produce by ear. She’s entirely self-taught,” Drea said about Jaah. “When she wanted to learn piano, she just came to me one day and told me she taught herself how on YouTube. The same goes for making beats. To have my JaahBaby doing what she does in a male-dominated industry makes her all the more extraordinary in my eyes.”
Jaah, who writes, produces, raps and sings her own music, said she creates music to inspire people to live full in their truths.
“I’d want people to know that you can do whatever you feel you want to because you have one life,” she added. “The reason I dress the way I dress is because I want to. The reason I do anything at all is because I want to. It just makes me happy. I feel like there are so many people who don’t do what they want to do in life.”
“Maybe people who feel like that can listen to my music and feel like they can do whatever the hell they want. Music doesn’t have one sound, one identity, and neither do people. Just let go of everything,” Jaah encouraged.