Just ahead of the Dec. 14 release of his new studio album, "Love Letter" (Jive), R. Kelly has thrown his weight behind an African supergroup going by the name One8.

Launched in Johannesburg this week, One8's first release is the R. Kelly-penned and produced "Hands Across The World," an uplifting ballad in a similar vein to his "Sign Of A Victory," the official World Cup anthem. He also sings on the track.

R. Kelly is billed as a member of the group that also features award-winning Nigerian R&B singer 2Face, Alikiba from Tanzania, Congolese singer Fally Ipupa, 4X4 from Ghana, hip-hop artist Movaizhaleine from Gabon, Zambia's JK, Ugandan hip-hop star Navio and Kenya's Amani - the only female in the group.

Initially only available digitally, "Hands Across The World" is released by Rockstar 4000 Music Entertainment, a Johannesburg-based pan-African 360-degree music and entertainment production, content and events company that has a partnership with Sony Music Entertainment to distribute its music and video catalog to hundreds of digital stores worldwide.

A music video has been produced for the track featuring Kelly.

Plans include an early 2011 released full-length album that JK tells Billboard.biz will feature newly penned tracks by all the artists currently involved in the One8 project around the theme of freedom. "Working with R. Kelly was an incredible experience that gave us a lot to take back home in terms of studio experience," comments JK.

Amani described One8 as a first for African artists. "We hope it will help people explore music from the rest of the continent and, at the end of the day that helps us get African music onto a much bigger platform," she says. "Africa is an untapped and beautiful market when it comes to music."