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'She Was My Heart'

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R&B singer Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards adamantly testified today that her then-underage niece is the girl having videotaped sex with R. Kelly. Sparkle said she introduced her niece to Kelly several years ago. “My mistake,” she said in court. The Edwards are a musical family and Kelly had heard the young girl rap. Eventually the girl referred to him as her godfather. Sparkle said Kelly used to do a Marlon Brandon imitation. Sparkle said it’s been more than a year since she’s seen her niece, who is now 23. She says the family is split into two camps over this tape. Kelly produced and arranged Sparkle’s first album. The duo had a popular duet 10 years ago. Sparkle met Kelly in Chicago as an aspiring singer in the late 1980s. She sang backup on the late R&B singer Aaliyah’s first album. You might recall that Kelly married an underage Aaliyah in the 1990s. (They quickly split up. I wonder if the prosecution will bring that up during the trial.) Sparkle occasionally teared up when talking about the strain of this videotape on her family. She testified that she recognized Kelly’s house in the video. Kelly’s lawyers say Sparkle is vindictive and trying to extort money from Kelly. They accused her of collaborating with Barry Hankerson, Kelly’s former manager and Aaliyah’s uncle, for musical revenge. Sparkle said she requested to be let out of her contract on Kelly’s label. She wanted to work with Ted Riley and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but she testified that Kelly was territorial in that way. She also said she hasn’t received any money from her first album. Sparkle said that hasn’t made her bitter. But Kelly’s lawyer Ed Genson wouldn’t let up on Sparkle. He insisted that this videotape was a concoction to get back at Kelly. He questioned why she went to a lawyer for help back when the tape surfaced. Sparkle channeled “When A Woman’s Fed Up” and pushed back on Genson who kept saying she didn’t know who made the tape. “Robert made that tape,” Sparkle said. Genson said she wanted money. “Sweetie, I’m not trying to get money on this,” Sparkle shot back. Genson told her she’s not his sweetie.

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