Three years ago, Kelly Rowland set out to find her biological father, with whom she hadn’t seen since she was eight years old. She wasn’t even sure if he was still alive or where to find him, with her only memory of him being that he was drunk and abusive towards her mother.
Now her father, 65 year old Christopher Lovett, has stepped up to the plate and is looking for forgiveness. He tells the UK Mirror that he hasn’t seen Kelly in 13 years and admits that his alcohol abuse and angry temper was the reason behind their family falling apart. He also relives the good memories of them singing together when she was a baby as well as the not so great memories of her howling and crying as he yelled and screamed at her mother.
When superstar singer Kelly Rowland appears on TV as a new X Factor judge, millions of her fans will watch with delight.
Christopher, who has not seen Kelly, 30, since she was seven, chokes back tears as he pleads: “Kelly, I love you with all my heart. Please forgive me and let me be your dad again.”
He admits his failure to provide for his family, a drink problem and a vicious temper tore his family apart. But he still idolises his daughter, and treasures the memories of their time together.
Christopher, 65, says: “I loved her from the moment she took her first breath. I remember as clear as day Kelly and I singing together, from the moment she could talk. Our favourite songs were by Stevie Wonder. I would put one headphone in my ear and the other in hers and we would sing and sing, so happy to be together.
“But then I lost my job at a transportation company, sank into a depression about money and began drinking more and more. The failure to provide for my family fuelled an anger that I will be ashamed of until my dying day.
“It wasn’t physical between me and Kelly’s mum, but there were many days and nights when Kelly would be bawling her eyes out, clutching my leg begging me, ‘Please daddy stop shouting at mummy’. That image of her howling, begging me to stop will haunt me forever.
“I really hoped I would get to make it up to her. Sadly I am still waiting for that day. But I can’t give up hope. That’s why there is a room in my house which I have decorated especially for Kelly, just in case she comes through the front door.”
Destiny’s Child star Kelly has spoken of her father in the past, saying: “I don’t know where he is but I hope he’s not dead. That would break my heart.
“I remember my dad being drunk and aggressive towards my mom but not me. I don’t know if he knows who I am or what I’ve done. He must be hiding under a rock if he doesn’t.”
Kelly was born on February 11, 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia. Christopher and her mum Doris, who married four years later, named her Kelendria.
Christopher says: “She was just this joyous, happy smiling baby who could melt my heart just by looking at me. She was a real daddy’s girl.”
“When she started to talk things just got even better. My heart would burst with pride when she belted out Whitney Houston songs. I saw her jumping round the front room singing like a pro, when she had barely just learnt to walk.”
But Christopher lost his job when Kelly was six and things started to fall apart. He says: “I am a proud man and wanted the best for my family so when I lost my job I was utterly ashamed and hid from that shame with drink.
“When Doris challenged me, I would just lose it. No parent should scream and shout in front of their child, and I am sorry to say there were too many times to mention that Kelly heard me screaming abuse at her mother. Sometimes she would run to her bedroom screaming, others she would cling to my trouser leg begging me to stop. When the electricity was cut off and we received an eviction letter we agreed for Doris to take Kelly to her aunt’s house while I sorted things out.
“Little did I know the day they left would be the last time I would see my wife and daughter ever again.
“Every time I phoned her aunt’s house she told me Kelly and her mum were out. I had no job, no money, no car and just no way of getting the 20 miles to where they were staying.
“When six months had passed I begged a friend for a ride to her aunt’s house and she told me they had moved to Texas. I begged her to give me an address, but she flat-out refused.” For the next 23 years, Christopher did everything he could to find Kelly, who will appear on the X Factor in August. He says: “I knew I had to stop drinking, get a job or I would never see my daughter again.
“And I did.
“But by then it was too late and they were gone, the two people I loved with all my heart and that tore me up and still does today.” At one point he drove 800 miles to Texas and walked from hotel to hotel in a failed attempt to find Kelly and her mother.
Then, years later, he heard how his daughter was part of a successful girl band – Destiny’s Child – and felt a surge of hope.
He says: “I had heard she was doing well singing, but I didn’t know how well until I turned on the TV and saw her performing. I cried and cried, with sadness but also with pride at what a wonderful, talented young woman Kelly had grown into.”
In 2000 he heard Destiny’s Child were performing in North Carolina so he drove for eight hours and bought a ticket.
He says: “I sat for the whole concert in one of the cheap seats at the back with tears of joy and utter despair rolling down my face. I wrote a note and begged a security guard to pass it to her.
“It said, ‘Darling I have been looking for you. I am so proud of you and I love you so much and I just long to tell you that in person. Love Dad’. But no matter how much I begged the guard he would not believe I was her father.” Christopher – who has framed Destiny’s Child posters on the walls of the Atlanta home he shares with his second wife Gracie – says he wants nothing from his daughter.
He just wants to tell her how proud he is and how much he loves her.
He adds tearfully: “I own a big home now and have retired so I don’t want any of Kelly’s fortune, I just want her love. I just hope she does not become such a big star in England on X Factor that she forgets about her dad completely.
“I’m getting old now – I just hope she reads this and doesn’t leave getting back in touch with me before it is too late.”