by Peyton Blakemore
The late singer’s mother spoke out in defense of her daughter’s legacy after a former backup dancer named Jovante Cunningham claimed, in a preview of Lifetime’s upcoming documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” that she once saw a 27-year-old R. Kelly having sex with a then-15-year-old Aaliyah.
“We were out on the road with Aaliyah,” Jovante said in the video clip. “On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping.” She continued: “So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing. When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”
Diane, however, denied Jovante’s claims on Wednesday (January 2) by releasing a passionate rebuttal on Twitter. “The woman and so-called back up singer that describes seeing, meeting or ever breathing the same air as my daughter, Aaliyah, is lying and is a liar,” she said in a statement. “My husband and I were always on tour with her and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career. Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now.”Diane then called Jovante’s recollection of events “lies and fabrication,” saying she’s had enough of “saboteurs of Aaliyah’s legacy.”
She continued: “My daughter only wanted to realize her dream of sharing her talent with the world, and give her all performing on stage and in front of the camera for the fans she adored so much. She realized that dream, thanks to those true fans who still love and support her legacy unconditionally to this day. Shame on all those involved in this project who thought it kosher to drag Aaliyah’s name into a situation that has nothing to do with her today. Once again, this will not be tolerated.”
As fans know, it has long been rumored that Aaliyah and R. Kelly had a romantic relationship and even tied the knot when she was only 15 in 1994. The wedding rumor was further perpetuated in the upcoming documentary series as one of R. Kelly’s former personal assistants, Demetrius Smith, detailed his part in the alleged secret wedding between the underage star and her older mentor. “I was in the room when they got married. I’m not proud of that. I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underaged. It was just a quick little ceremony, she didn’t have on a white dress he didn’t have on a tux. Just every day wear. She looked worried and scared,” he alleged. Adding, their marriage was annulled within the year because “her parents had the last say.”
Aaliyah died in 2001 at the age of 22 after her plane crashed while leaving the Bahamas.