Today marks the ten-year anniversary of the unexpected departure of the true R&B princess, Aaliyah. Disclosed… pays tribute to the late, lyrical angel herself with a timeline of her journey to stardom and quick capture of our hearts.
Aaliyah first displayed her vocal talent for the world in 1990 at the tender age of 11 as a contestant on Star Search. She was unsuccessful that night, but her quest was far from over. She went on to perform later that year with Gladys Knight, the former wife of her uncle Barry Hankerson at a five-night show in Las Vegas.
At age 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records. By 1994, Aaliyah had struck gold with her debut album Age Ain’t Nothin But a Number selling three million copies in the U.S. Her tomboy, yet seductive style attracted audiences all over.
Aaliyah left Jive and signed with Atlantic Records where she linked with super producers Timbaland and Missy Elliot. In 1996, Aaliyah released her sophomore album, One in a Million which sold 3.7 million copies in the U.S. and over eight million copies worldwide.
Aaliyah proved her growth with her record for the Anastasia soundtrack, “Journey to the Past” which she performed at the 1998 Oscar’s. Later that year, she was given an endorsement with Tommy Hilfiger. She also recorded a hit record “Are You That Somebody” for the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack which earned Aaliyah her first Grammy nomination.
In 2000, Aaliyah made her acting debut with a leading role in Romeo Must Die starring with Jet Li and DMX. She also was an executive producer of the film’s soundtrack which included her track “Try Again.” In 2001, she filmed her role in Queen of the Damned which was not released until six months after her death. She was also casted for two sequels of the hit film The Matrix but her untimely death prohibited.
By 2001, Aaliyah was in her prime, with both music and acting accolades, she prepared for the release of her third album Aaliyah. While traveling from the taping of her video for “Rock the Boat” on the Abaco Island in the Bahamas, the plane carrying Aaliyah and her video crew crashed killing her and the other eight passengers on the plane. Aaliyah at the age of 22 left behind parents Michael and Diane Haughton, older brother Rashaad, and millions of fans.
I will never forget the confusion and sadness that overwhelmed me that Sunday morning in 2001 learning of Aaliyah’s death. Her music left a lasting touch on all of us and she is truly missed. But as many of those close to her stated, she was well beyond her years. She made her mark on this world and rests in a much better place.