CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rapper R. Kelly returned home to Chicago to help out a teacher who coached him as a teenager.
Kelly, who grew up in Chicago, calls Dr. Lena McLin, 87, the biggest influence in his life.
"She asked me, 'Do you know who you are?' I said, 'Yes, I'm Robert.' She said, 'No, you're God's child. You're gonna be one of the most incredible singers, songwriters and producers of all time,'" R. Kelly said.
Dr. McLin, a musician and composer, has coached the talents of Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Kahn and Mandy Patinkin. R. Kelly is still the teacher's pet. The first song she made him sing in class: "You are So Beautiful."
"Once I did that, the crowd started screaming. I thought somebody like Michael Jackson was behind me. I don't know what's going on," Kelly said.
Kelly said he was shy growing up and didn't want to sing in front of anyone, he said. He found the confidence with McLin's help.
"She told me to put on some black glasses and just act like you're blind. She told me to get out there and do Stevie Wonder, "Ribbon In The Sky." And I went out there and started "Ribbon In the Sky." And the girls started screaming. And I was like, 'Wow!'" R. Kelly said.
Kelly's concert on Thursday was a benefit concert for McLin, who is in danger of losing her apartment to condominium construction.
He said his new album, "Buffet," has "all you can hear" on it in a blend of styles.