Hours before his appearance at the Dirty South Lounge in Springfield, Kelly posted a video on Instagram asking the media to "take it easy" on him because "this is how I got to get paid now, for right now."
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Kelly, 52, was charged in February with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse that accused him of assaulting four women during a roughly 10-year period starting in the late 1990s. Three of the accusers were underage at the time. He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.
Since his arrest, the cash-strapped singer has struggled to get work in the U.S., Kelly's lawyer Steve Greenberg wrote in a motion last month seeking permission for Kelly to perform in Dubai and meet with members of the sheikhdom's royal family.
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Kelly has been scrambling to pay child support, legal fees and everyday expenses because of the cancellation of Illinois concerts and a record contract, as well as the removal of his songs from streaming services, he wrote.
Kelly's lawyers later put the motion on hold. Dubai's government denied that Kelly had any concerts planned there and the claims that he would meet with members of the royal family.
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About 100 people showed up for Kelly's appearance at the Springfield club, which has a 450-person capacity, TV stations WICS and WRSP reported. There was a $100 entrance fee, which was lowered to $50 once Kelly arrived at 1:30 a.m.
Kelly thanked supporters, sang a line from one of his songs for 28 seconds and spent about 35 minutes taking selfies, dancing and conversing with fans. The club closed at 3 a.m.
Some fans said it wasn't worth the $100 and that they wouldn't pay again. Fans also defended showing up at the event, saying they separate the accusations from the artist, the stations reported.