Aaliyah Dana Haughton
Aaliyah was born on January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn, New York. “Aaliyah” was named after a Swahili word that means “the exalted one.” Her mother was also a singer, enrolled Aaliyah into singing classes before even beginning school. At a young age, when she and her family moved to Detroit, her uncle Barry Hankerson (he was a manager and entertainment lawyer as well as spouse to Gladys Knight for some time), was able to use his connections and get Aaliyah to preform for 5 nights in Las Vegas as a part of the Gladys Knight revue.
In 1992, her uncle/manager was also managing a rising r&b star known as R.Kelly, he introduced the two. Kelly began to mentor Aaliyah and even wrote and produced songs for her.
1994 her debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,” quickly became a platinum-selling hit. The two singles “Back & Forth,” and a cover of the Isley Brother’s “At Your Best (You Are Love) were the strongest.
August of the same year Aaliyah had found herself in the center of a controversy when rumors had spread that the 15 year old had married R.Kelly (10 years her senior). Their respected camps kept a tight-lip on the matter, documents later confirmed that the two had married in Illinois, and had gotten an annulment shortly after. As the media buzz died down the two had already gone on their own way both professionally and personally.
Her sophomore album “One in a Million,” was released in 1996. Multiple tracks off the album were hits, including; “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “One in a Million,” “4 page Letter,” and “the One I Gave My Heart to.” ”One in a Million” went double platinum.
She took time off before releasing a follow-up album to focus on her acting career. She starred in the 2000 “Romeo Must Die, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Her accompanying single “Try Again” was her first hit of the summer. She followed this with starring as the vampire queen in the Anne Rice vampire movie “Queen of the Damned.” Aaliyah was signed to do two of the Matrix movies sequels as a prominent role. She was also able to release her third album, “Aaliyah.” The album received great reviews.
One month later she flew to the Bahamas to record the video for the second single of the album, “Rock the Boat.” On August 25, after boarding a small plane to return to the mainland, the plane crashed shortly after take off and exploded on impact. Aaliyah and several others aboard were killed instantly. An investigation later showed that the plane had far exceeded its weight limit, and the plane’s pilot had recently been arrested for crack cocaine possession (which was found along with traces of alcohol in his system). Shock to the entertainment world, the unwavering support and love for her sent her album double platinum singles “Rock the Boat” and “More than a Woman” were both posthumous Top Ten hits on the R&B chart. “Queen of the Damned” was a huge success with its early 2002 release.
The end of the year saw Aaliyah’s posthumous album “I Care 4 U” hit the charts at number 3. The album was a compilation of some of her biggest hits along with unreleased songs. The title track was a top 20 pop hit, and the following year “Miss You” topped the R&B Charts.
Aaliyah was 22.