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I began to work the stage and get the audience into it. I also learned how to have fun out there. It is something I will never forget.
~ Aaliyah
AALIYAH
Aaliyah 2001
Aaliyah in 2001

Full Name

Aaliyah Dana Haughton

Born

January 16, 1979
Brooklyn, New York City, NY

Died

August 25, 2001
Marsh Harbour, Bahamas

Age

22 (by the time of her death)

Cause of death

Plane crash

Resting place

Ferncliff Cemetery, Greenburgh, NY

Occupation

Singer, Dancer, Actress, Model

Family

Diane Haughton (mother)
Michael Haughton (father)†
Rashad Haughton (brother)
Barry Hankerson (uncle)

Years Active

1991 ~ 2001

Aaliyah Dana Haughton (1/16/1979 ~ 8/25/2001) was an american singer, dancer, actress and model. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of 10, she appeared on the television show Star Search and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. At age 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground Records. Hankerson introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. The album sold three million copies in the United States and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with R. Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed with Atlantic Records.

Aaliyah worked with record producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott for her second album, One In A Million; it sold 3 million copies in the United States and over eight million copies worldwide. In 2000, Aaliyah appeared in her first film, Romeo Must Die. She contributed to the film's soundtrack, which spawned the single "Try Again". The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 solely on airplay, making Aaliyah the first artist in Billboard history to achieve this goal. "Try Again" earned Aaliyah a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist. After completing Romeo Must Die, Aaliyah filmed her role in Queen of the Damned. She released her third and final album, Aaliyah, in July 2001.

On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the single "Rock the Boat". The pilot, Luis Morales III, was unlicensed at the time of the accident and had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system. Aaliyah's family later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackhawk International Airways, which was settled out of court. Aaliyah's music has continued to achieve commercial success with several posthumous releases. Aaliyah has sold an estimate of 24 to 32 million albums worldwide. She has been credited for helping redefine contemporary R&B, pop and hip hop, earning her the nicknames "Princess of R&B" and "Queen of Urban Pop". She is listed by Billboard as the tenth most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years and 27th most successful R&B artist in history.

Early Life Edit

Baby Aaliyah

Aaliyah as a baby.

Aaliyah "Dana" Haughton was born on January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. She's the younger child of Diane Haughton and the late, Michael Haughton. Aaliyah also have an older brother named Rashad (b.1977). She was African American, and was said to have Oneida heritage from a grandmother. At a young age, Aaliyah was enrolled in voice lessons by her mother. She started performing at weddings, church choir and charity events. When she was five years old, her family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she was raised along with Rashad.

She attended a Catholic school, Gesu Elementary, where in first grade, she received a part in the stage play Annie. From then on, she was determined to become an entertainer. In Detroit, her father began working in the warehouse business, one of his brother-in-law Barry Hankerson's widening interests. Her mother stayed home and raised Aaliyah and Rashad. Aaliyah's mother was a vocalist, and her uncle, Barry Hankerson, was an entertainment lawyer who had been married to Gladys Knight.

Young Aaliyah Star Search

Aaliyah singing My Funny Valentine on Star Search in 1989.

As a child, Aaliyah traveled with Knight and worked with an agent in New York to audition for commercials and television programs, including Family Matters; she went on to appear on Star Search at the age of ten. Aaliyah chose to begin auditioning while her mother made the decision to have her surname dropped. She auditioned for several record labels and at age 11 appeared in concerts alongside Knight. She had several pet animals in during her childhood, which included ducks, snakes and iguanas. Her cousin Jomo had a pet alligator, which Aaliyah felt was too much, remarking, "that was something I wasn't going to stroke."

Her grandmother died in 1991. Years after her death, Aaliyah said her grandmother supported everyone in the family and always wanted to hear her sing, as well as admitting that she "spoiled" her and her brother Rashad "to death." She also enjoyed Aaliyah's singing and would have Aaliyah to sing for her. Aaliyah stated that she thought of her grandmother whenever she fell into depression. Aaliyah's hands reminded her of her aunt, who died when she was "very young" and Aaliyah referred to her as an "amazingly beautiful woman".

Education Edit

Aaliyah attended Detroit schools growing up and believed she was well-liked, but got teased for her short stature. She recalled coming into her own prior to age 15 and grew to love her height. Her mother would tell her to be happy that she was small and compliment her. Other children disliked Aaliyah, but she did not stay focused on them. "You always have to deal with people who are jealous, but there were so few it didn't even matter. The majority of kids supported me, which was wonderful. When it comes to dealing with negative people, I just let it in one ear and out the other. Those people were invisible to me." Even in her adult life, she considered herself small. She had "learned to accept and love" herself and added: "... the most important thing is to think highly of yourself because if you don't, no one else will".

Aaliyah, who maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average when graduating from Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, felt education was important. She saw fit to keep her grades up despite the pressures and time constraints brought on her during the early parts of her career. She labeled herself as a perfectionist and recalled always being a good student. Aaliyah reflected: "I always wanted to maintain that, even in high school when I first started to travel. I wanted to keep that 4.0. Being in the industry, you know, I don't want kids to think, 'I can just sing and forget about school.' I think it's very important to have an education, and even more important to have something to fall back on." She did this in her own life, as she planned to "fall back on" another part of the entertainment industry. She believed that if she could teach music history or open her own school to teach that or drama if she did not not make a living as a recording artist because, as she reasoned, "when you pick a career it has to be something you love".

Carrer Edit

1991 - 1995: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

After her uncle, Barry signed a distribution deal with JIVE Records, he signed Aaliyah to his Blackground Records label at the age of 12. Hankerson later introduced her to recording artist and producer R. Kelly, who became Aaliyah's mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of the album, which was recorded when she was 14.

Aaliyah's debut album, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number was released under JIVE andBlackground Records; the album debut at number 24 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 74,000 copies in its first week. It ultimately peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 200 and sold over three million copies in the United States, where it was certified two times Platinum by the RIAA. In Canada, the album sold over 50,000 copies and was certified gold by the CRIA. Aaliyah's debut single, "Back & Forth", topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for three weeks and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The second single, cover of The Isley Brothers' "At Your Best (You Are Love)", peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and was also certified Gold by the RIAA. The title track, "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number", peaked at number 75 on the Hot 100. Additionally, she released "The Thing I Like" as part of the soundtrack to the 1994 film, A Low Down Dirty Shame.