Like Prince and Marvin Gaye, R. Kelly consistently balanced the line between songs about sexuality and spirituality. For every “Bump And Grind” and “Freak Dat Body”, you’ve got a “I Believe I Can Fly” or “World’s Greatest” that changes your perception of the R&B superstar. R. Kelly’s public persona has taken outrageous hits over the past twenty years but at the same time, his songs of hope, inspiration, and spirituality have become motivational anthems that have changed the lives of listeners worldwide. Robert got his start at 8 years old singing in his mother’s Baptist church, so it’s not surprising that his religious upbringing has inspired Kelly’s music. Here’s a Top 10 countdown of R. Kelly’s Inspirational Songs.
Honorable Mention: “Heaven I Need A Hug” (2003 Chocolate Factory) “Victory” (Epic 2010), “Peace” (U Saved Me 2004), “I Need An Angel” (B-side), “Trade In My Life” (R. Kelly 1995), “I Wish” (TP2.com 2000)
#10 “GOTHAM CITY” From the 1997 Batman & Robin Soundtrack, the title may be Batman inspired but the inspirational message is of hope and living in unity.
#9 “HOLD ON” Released in 2001 on the “Ali” soundtrack featuring Will Smith, it received less attention than R. Kelly’s other addition to the soundtrack, “The World’s Greatest”
#8 “RISE UP” From the 2007 “Double Up” LP, the song was adopted as a tribute to those massacred at University of Virginia Tech. Proceeds were donated to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.
#7 “SOLDIER’S HEART” Originally released in 2001, renamed “Front Line” in 2005, all proceeds were donated to American soldiers.
#6 “IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME” From R. Kelly’s self-titled 1998 album, a powerful love song about life-changing moments and the lasting decisions we make.
#5 “THE WORLD’S GREATEST” The Top 10 smash from Kelly’s 2003 “Chocolate Factory” CD opens with the beautiful line, “I am a mountain, I am a tall tree, oh I am a swift wind Sweeping the country”
#4 “WHEN I TALK ABOUT YOU” & “U SAVED ME” The double album, “Happy People/U Saved Me” was Robert’s crowning moment in expressing his spirituality. The entire second disc was pure Gospel and two of the standout tracks were the title track and the outwardly Christian anthem, “When I Talk About You”
#3 “THE STORM IS OVER NOW”
“I was in a tunnel
And couldn’t see the light
And whenever I’d look up
I couldn’t see the sky
Sometimes when I’m standin’
It seems like I done walked for miles
And my heart could be cryin’
Dead in the middle of a smile
But then I climbed the hills
And saw the mountains
I hollered help ’cause I was lost
Then I felt the strong wind
Heard a small voice sayin’
The storm is over
#2 “I BELIEVE I CAN FLY” Many still picture Michael Jordan teaming up with Bugs Bunny when they hear this 1996 Grammy winning song from the movie, “Space Jam” but others draw powerful inspiration in the lyrics that promise that anything is truly possible if you believe.
#1 “I LOOK TO YOU” How important was this song to R. Kelly? When Whitney Houston passed away, Robert sang a passionate inspired performance at the memorial service in dedication to his friend, Whitney. The original version was written by Kelly but released by Houston. After her death, it was remixed as a duet by both R&B superstars.