Ten years have gone by since Aaliyah was taken away, but the time passed has not shed off the inspiration that she left behind. Influencing artists from Beyonce to Drake, Aaliyah’s music has lived on through the music industry a lot longer than many other artists have. Given the title “Queen of Urban Pop,” Aaliyah’s music brought a unique style to the world of urban music, a style that could not be erased.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Growing up around family members in the music industry helped launch Aaliyah’s career. Aaliyah appeared on Star Search at the age of 10 and at 11 years old, she performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. By the age of 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle, Barry Hankerson, introduced her to R. Kelly. Aaliyah and R. Kelly went to work and by the age of 15, she released Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, an album that went double platinum. From there on, everyone knew that Aaliyah was born to be a star.
In 1996, Aaliyah left Jive Records and signed to Atlantic Records. Around the same time, she started building her relationship with Timbaland and Missy Elliot and they worked together to release the hit album One In A Million. One In a Million reached No. 18 on the Billboard charts and went on to sell eight million copies worldwide. One In A Million influenced artists to push themselves to try something new with their music and not to hold themselves back. The success from the album also pushed Aaliyah to broaden her horizons and look into other opportunities.
Aaliyah graduated from the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts in 1997 and the same year she played herself in the television series New York Undercover. Aaliyah landed her first major movie role in 2000 as Trish O’ Day in the movie Romeo Must Die. When the movie released, Aaliyah’s fans packed up the movie theaters and all the sales from the movie pushed Romeo Must Die to No. 2 at the box office. Not only did the movie do well, but the soundtrack sold over 1.5 million copies. Aaliyah was an executive producer on the soundtrack and contributed four songs, including the hit single, Try Again.
Aaliyah’s acting career began to flourish after Romeo Must Die and she snagged the lead role in Queen of The Damned and a role in The Matrix. Once she finished filming Queen of The Damned, Aaliyah released her third and final album, Aaliyah. The album topped the charts and it became one of the best R&B albums of 2001. Aaliyah’s presence began to become a large influence in the industry and she became a role model for many. But before Aaliyah could see the inspiration that she gave her family, friends, peers and fans, she passed away.
August 25, 2001 was one of the saddest days for the world of music. Aaliyah along with eight others boarded a plane in the Bahamas after shooting the video for Rock the Boat and were heading back to the United States. The pilot, unauthorized to fly a plane and highly intoxicated on alcohol and drugs, crashed the plane just a few minutes after departing and the plane caught up in flames.
I remember getting the call from a friend telling me that Aaliyah had just passed and the news seemed unreal. How could she have passed? Why did she passed? Questions ran through my mind that really could not be answered. Just like myself, many of her fans could not wrap their heads around the truth. She had just released one of her greatest albums and she had so much more to give musically. With such a great influence over the industry, it was unbelievable that someone like Aaliyah would die so young.
Aaliyah’s death caused many to look at their own lives and rethink if they were truly living it to the fullest. Aaliyah’s legacy is imprinted in the music world and the style of music she created has lived on through many artists today. Tributes have been created for Aaliyah in the form of art, music, television, etc. But the greatness she held could only be remembered through the memories everyone has of her. With her beauty, grace, intelligence and amazing musical talents, Aaliyah was truly one in a million.Aaliyah, Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, Barry Hankerson, Beyonce, Billboard, Drake, Gladys Knight, Missy Elliot, New York Undercover, One In a Million, R. Kelly, Rock the Boat, Romeo Must Die, Star Search, Timbaland, Try Again