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Aaliyah Dana Haughton 1979 - 2001

Country : Brooklyn, NY
Profession : Singer
Date of birth : 1979-01-16
Date of death : 2001-08-25
Cause of Death : Airplane crash

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Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001), who performed under the mononym Aaliyah (pronounced /əˈliːə/) was an American R&B and pop singer and actress. Introduced to audiences by R&B-pop singer R. Kelly, Aaliyah became famous during the mid-1990s with several hit records from the songwriting-production team of Missy Elliott and Timbaland. She found success with her debut album Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, while introducing a "street but sweet" style which would become her trademark throughout her career followed by two more albums, One In a Million and the eponymous Aaliyah.

In addition to Aaliyah's commercial success, collaborations with Timbaland helped shape the sound of R&B in the later half of the 1990s. She also modeled for Tommy Hilfiger, appeared in a Victoria Secret ad and starred in three motion pictures, Romeo Must Die, Queen of the Damned and Matrix Reloaded, before she and eight others died in a plane crash in the Bahamas on August 25, 2001 after filming the music video for the single "Rock The Boat". Since then, Aaliyah has achieved commercial success with the singles "Miss You" and "I Care 4 U". She has had more than 10 Top 25 singles and has also topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Try Again", becoming the first song in history to hit number one based on airplay alone.


Early life and career

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, New York to Michael and Diane Haughton. Her maternal grandmother, Mintis L. Hicks Hankerson, gave her the middle name Dana. Her first name, Aaliyah means "Highest, Most Exalted, The Best" in Arabic. Her grandmother was Native American descent. Aaliyah was raised as a Roman Catholic with her older brother Rashad Haughton. Diane Haughton, Aaliyah's mother, was also a vocalist and encouraging of her daughter's career and has been cited as the biggest influence and inspiration to Aaliyah. Aaliyah, herself had stated in a interview that she is a soprano.

At age 5, Aaliyah and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan. At age 6 she appeared in the stage play Annie and in 1989, she appeared on the TV talent show Star Search at age 10, singing her mother's favorite song, "My Funny Valentine". Although she did not win, she continued to perfect her skills. Aaliyah traveled with Gladys Knight, and worked with an agent in New York and auditioned for TV shows, including Family Matters.

Aaliyah attended the Detroit School of Arts and graduated in 1997 with a 4.0 GPA.

1993-1995: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

After signing with her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground Records label in 1993 at the age of 14, Haughton was putting the final touches on her debut album with rapper and producer R. Kelly, when she was 15. Kelly became Aaliyah's mentor and was a leading songwriter and producer on her debut album, which went platinum within months. As the newcomer's first outing, the first single "Back and Forth" reached gold status. The song subsequently scored Aaliyah her first number-one hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart, where it remained three weeks atop. The second single "At Your Best (You Are Love) was a big booster in sales of Aaliyah's album reaching number two on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart". Her debut album Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, a collection of hip hop soul-oriented jazz tunes, reached number 18 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Top R&B Albums chart. It eventually sold more than two million copies domestically, and although the album's success was limited elsewhere, it produced also the album title-track "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number".

The singer continued to soar the following two years, teaming up with Kelly again for the A Low Down Dirty Shame, "The Thing I Like" was released overseas. While not her biggest hit, the single did peak at number 33 on the UK chart.

1996-1999: One In A Million

In 1996, Aaliyah found a new hometeam which included rapper and producer Tim "Timbaland" Mosley and Missy Elliott. The upcoming producers contribute to Haughton's second album when she was 17 years old, One in a Million, which was released on August 27, 1996 internationally. Elliott and Mosley co-wrote and produced majority of the album which yielded her second number-one song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, "If Your Girl Only Knew,". The single spent two weeks on top of the Billboard charts, and eventually garnered the pair a World Music Award for "World's Best Selling Female R&B Artist".

The album was a landmark in Aaliyah's career, garnering her mass critical acclaim and introducing the singer more mature side. It embarked on the newfound chemistry of Aaliyah and Timbaland. The album's success was equally widespread, and following extensive airplay of the single overseas, the label released it globally following it success. One In A Million eventually became Aaliyah’s biggest album, with certified double-platinum within a year selling over two million copies in the U.S. alone.

Hilfiger gave Aaliyah her first endorsement deal. The singler was signed onto print campaigns, runway shows, and a commercial. During this period, Aaliyah would also make guest appearances on albums by artists such as Missy Elliott, Timbaland & Magoo, Ginuwine and Playa. Timbaland and Playa's frontman Static Major remained Aaliyah's principal collaborators for the duration of her career. To date, One in a Million has sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. and over 11 million worldwide to date.

2000-2002: Aaliyah

"We Need a Resolution", the first single from Aaliyah's highly-anticipated junior studio album, was released in April 2001. The self-titled Aaliyah was released four months later on July 17, 2001. The album was a critical success, introducing a darker and edgier side to Aaliyah's music, and was noted as having showcased her growth as an artist. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, selling nearly 200,000 copies in its first week, was certified gold within four weeks and platinum in six weeks. In the Summer 2001, Aaliyah filmed the video for Aaliyah's intended second single, "More Than a Woman". After the video was completed, another song started to receive heavy reviews and airplay; then became finalized and decided that "Rock The Boat" should be the second single instead, and the "More Than a Woman" video was temporarily shelved and confimed the third single. Most of its tracks were written by Steve "Static Major" Garrett, with Missy Elliott contributing the album's fourth single, "I Care 4 U".

Film, television and soundtracks

Early in her career, she appeared as herself on a 1994 episode of the gritty cop drama New York Undercover. She appeared on the Nickelodeon original series All That performing "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" in 1995. She then returned again in 1997 to perform her hit "One in a Million".

She also garnered much success from her songs being featured on movie soundtracks. In 1997, Aaliyah appeared on the soundtrack album for the Fox Animation Studios animated feature Anastasia, singing the pop version of "Journey to the Past". The song was nominated for an Academy Award, and Aaliyah performed the song at the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony, becoming the youngest singer to perform at the ceremony. On The Anastasia DVD, Aaliyah is featured as a Host in the special features.[10]

In 2000, Aaliyah landed her first major movie role in Romeo Must Die, which was a smash debuting at number one at the box office. A loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Aaliyah starred opposite martial artist Jet Li, playing a couple who fall in love amid their warring families. In addition to acting, Aaliyah and Timbaland executive produced the film's soundtrack album and she contributed four songs: "Are You Feelin' Me?", "I Don't Wanna", "Come Back in One Piece," a duet with DMX which landed at #10 on "BET: Notarized" Top 100 videos of 2000, and the international number one hit "Try Again."

Aaliyah made history when "Try Again" became the first song to ever reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on the strength of its radio airplay, without any single sales factored in. After the huge success of "Try Again" on radio, a 12" maxi single was released for consumer purchase. "Try Again" landed at #7 on "BET: Notarized" Top 100 Videos of 2000. The radio-only single, "I Don't Wanna", (which was also featured on the soundtrack for the film Next Friday) peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart. In 2001, Aaliyah went to Australia to co-star with Stuart Townsend in the classic vampire film Queen of the Damned, an adaptation of the Anne Rice novel of the same name.

Looking ahead, Aaliyah had a supporting role in the two sequels to The Matrix as Zee, the wife of Harold Perrineau Jr.'s character, Link. The directors initially tried to find a way to incorporate her footage into the movies but decided against it due to lack of material available. The role was recast with Nona Gaye playing the role. In 2004, The Matrix was released to DVD, tributes and footage of Aaliyah were found inside the special features. She was once supposed to work with musician Trent Reznor but their schedules (Post production of Aaliyah's sophomore movie Queen Of The Damned and Nine Inch Nails' The Fragility Tour) conflicted with each other and the collaboration never scheduled.

Other films in which Aaliyah was signed to appear were Honey (which was recasted to Jessica Alba), a role in the movie State Property 2 (which was recasted to Mariah Carey) and a Whitney Houston-produced remake of the 1976 film Sparkle which was later announced cancelled as well as Some Kind of Blue which was cancelled as well due to Aaliyah's death. Aaliyah was also offered a role in Ice Cube's film Next Friday but due to a busy schedule and promotion of her debut film Romeo Must Die, she could not commit to the role and was later scrapped.


On August 25, 2001, at 6:45 pm (EST), just after finishing filming of the music video to "Rock the Boat", Aaliyah and various members of her record company boarded a twin engine Cessna 402B (N8097W) at Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island, Bahamas to travel to Opa-locka Airport near Miami, Florida. The crew had a flight scheduled the next day, but since the video wrapped early, Aaliyah and her entourage were eager to return to the US. Aaliyah's entourage was in a rush to get back to New York so they demanded that their heavy equipment from the shoot be on the plane rather than leave it behind which resulted in the aircraft being well beyond the standard weight and balance tolerance provided by Cessna.

The plane crashed shortly after takeoff about 200 feet (60 m) from the runway. Aaliyah, pilot Luis Morales III and the seven other passengers, including her hair stylist Eric Forman, Anthony Dodd, her security guard Scott Gallin, Douglas Kratz (a director of video production for Virgin Records), stylist Christopher Maldonado, Keith Wallace and Gina Smith (both employees of the Blackground label) died.

According to findings from an inquest conducted by the coroner's office in the Bahamas, Aaliyah suffered from "severe burns and a blow to the head", in addition to severe shock. The coroner theorized that, even if Aaliyah had survived the crash, her recovery would have been virtually impossible given the severity of her injuries.

Aaliyah's funeral was held on August 31, 2001 at Saint Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan, New York City.

The NTSB report stated "The airplane was seen lifting off the runway, and then nose down, impacting in a marsh on the south side of the departure end of runway 27."

It also indicated that the pilot, Luis Morales III, was not approved to pilot the plane he was attempting to fly. Morales falsely obtained his FAA license by showing hundreds of hours never flown, and he may also have falsified how many hours he had flown in order to get a job with his employer, Blackhawk International Airways. Additionally, an autopsy performed on Morales revealed traces of cocaine and alcohol in his blood.

Further investigations determined the plane was over its total gross weight by several hundred pounds. Eddie Golson, president of Pro Freight Cargo Services at Opa-locka Airport, said workers carted "a pickup truck of freight" from the crash site. Two of the passengers weighed in the region of 300 pounds and sat in the rear of the plane, where the baggage was also stored.

The NTSB report stated that "the total gross weight of the airplane was substantially exceeded." In addition, with heavy passengers and cargo in the back, the center of gravity was pushed too far aft. This caused an uncontrollable nose-up attitude, leading to a stall.

The day of the crash was Morales' first official day with Blackhawk International Airways, an FAA Part 135 single-pilot operation. In addition, Luis Morales III was not registered with the FAA to fly for Blackhawk. As a result of the accident, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Aaliyah’s parents and was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Barry & Sons, Inc., a corporation formed in 1992 to develop, promote and capitalize on the musical talents of Aaliyah and to oversee the production and distribution of her records, tapes and music videos, brought an unsuccessful lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against Instinct Productions LLC, (a company hired by Barry & Sons, Inc. in August 2001 to produce the "Rock the Boat" music video). The case was dismissed since New York State's wrongful death statute only permits certain people to recover damages for wrongful death.


Aaliyah won two posthumous American Music Awards in 2002 for "Favorite Female R&B Artist", and "Favorite R&B/Soul Album". The album has sold nearly 3 million in the U.S and 12 million worldwide.

"Rock the Boat" went on to become a posthumous hit on radio (reaching number two on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles charts, number 14 on the Hot 100, and number 12 in the UK) and video channels, and the news of Aaliyah's death gave her album a notable sales boost, pushing it to number one on the Billboard 200. The album produced two other singles: "More Than a Woman" reached number seven on Billboard's Hot R&B singles chart, number 25 on Hot 100, and number 1 in the UK, and at number 11 on BET's "Notarized" Top 100 videos of 2002. "I Care 4 U" reached number three on Billboard's Hot R&B singles chart and number sixteen on the Hot 100, the latter attaining success even without the promotional push of a music video. The Aaliyah album has gone on to sell over 12 million copies worldwide.

Her last film Queen of the Damned was released in early 2002. Before its release, Aaliyah's brother Rashad Haughton was called upon to re-dub several of his sister's lines during the post-production ADR process. Upon its release, the film debuted at number one. The film was dedicated to her memory.

Aaliyah's "More than a Woman", released on January 7 and topped the chart on January 13, was followed by Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", re-released on January 14 and topped the chart on January 20.

Aaliyah was voted one of "The Top 40 Women of the Video Era" in VH1's The Greatest, also ranked number 36 on their list of the 100 Sexiest Artists. Aaliyah also made E!'s list on the 101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment, Juiciest Hollywood Hookups, and Best Kept Hollywood Secrets. Aaliyah recently ranked at number 18 on BET's "Top 25 Dancers of All Time" and ranked at number four on BET's "Top 25 Sexiest Women of all Time".

Aaliyah has been the topic of four books: Aaliyah: More than a Woman (2001) by Christopher John Farley, Aaliyah: An R&B Princess in Words and Pictures (2002) by Kelly Kenyatta, Aaliyah by Tim Footman (2003), and Aaliyah Remembered: Her Life & The Person behind the Mystique (2004/2005) by William Sutherland.

Her family created The Aaliyah Memorial Fund which will donate money raised to charities Aaliyah supported. Aaliyah's Cancer Awareness Angels participate in a Revlon Run Walk in which Aaliyah herself once participated.

The name "Aaliyah" did not appear on the Social Security Administration's popular baby names list for girls until 1994, the year of Aaliyah's debut album. However, it entered the top 100 of that list in 2001, the year of her death; it has remained there every year since, through the most recent list (2007).

Aaliyah ranked number 10 by Yahoo' 100 Greatest R&B Artist of All Time countdown in 2007. In May of 2008 it was announced that The Detroit School of Arts (Aaliyah's Alma Mater) had named a Recital Hall in honor of the late songtress.

Aaliyah's official myspace page has received 19,096,838 plays and 10,768,484 views as of February 18, 2009 since being created in the summer of 2006.


  • Usher covered Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" as a tribute to Aaliyah.
  • Mary J. Blige, a fellow hip-hop/soul singer, makes reference to Aaliyah's death being a difficult and important point in her life in her song "MJB da MVP"
  • Rapper Twista, mentions Aaliyah in "Hope": "I just wanna say rest in peace to Aaliyah, rest in peace to Left Eye, rest in peace to Jam Master Jay"
  • R&B singer Brandy made musical and lyrical references to Aaliyah. She pays homage to Aaliyah on "Turn It Up" and "Should I Go" from her 2004 album Afrodisiac.
  • Also rapper Jadakiss made the statement in his song "Why". "Why Aaliyah have to take that flight"
  • R&B singer Ray J and Brandy made a lyrical reference to Aaliyah on "War Is Over" on Ray J's 2005 album Raydiation.
  • Rapper Kanye West cites both Aaliyah's death and Left Eye's in his song "Never Let Me Down"
  • The movie "Queen of the Damned" was dedicated to Aaliyah post mortem, "In memory of Aaliyah 1979 - 2001" is displayed at the end of the movie, before the credits are displayed.
  • Southern rappers Nappy Roots pay lyrical homage to Aaliyah with the lines "Shouts out to Aaliyah, lived a legendary career, on my wall I got ya picture, God pray with ya" on the track Blowin' Trees.
  • Rapper Jay-Z recorded a tribute song to Aaliyah and other lost members of the hip-hop community over her song "Miss You"
  • Rick Vocals dedicated his 1st single to Aaliyah.
  • Edyta Górniak dedicated her second album "Invisible" in tribute to Aaliyah.
  • Mýa dedicated her song "After The Rain" (Moodring) to her and Lisa Lopes.
  • Destiny's Child, during their performance of Emotion at the 2001 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Awards, dedicated their song to Aaliyah.
  • Anastacia's song "How Come The World Won't Stop" (from her Freak of Nature album) was written about Aaliyah and dedicated to her.
  • Aaliyah is mentioned on The Game's song, "Dreams".
  • The Game also did a song "My Love For You". "My love for you lives on like the memory of Aaliyah singin' a last song"
  • Missy Elliott did a song called "Can You Hear Me" (featuring TLC)
  • Rapper T.I. mentions Aaliyah, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes , and Jam-Master Jay in his song "Rubberband Man" from his 2003 album Trap Muzik
  • Producer Timbaland, a long time (friend/brother) collaborator of Aaliyah's, used rare footage of her in his half-time set on the Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveShow 2007 tour.
  • Aaliyah is mentioned in Gorillaz and D12's song 911 "We lost Aaliyah, lost our families, it takes no Tenges"
  • Aaliyah is mentioned in Jay-Z freestyle to A Milli with the lines "Back, forth like Aaliyah - Rest In Peace!"
  • Aaliyah is mentioned in the Nas's song "Just a Moment" (featuring Quan)
  • Aaliyah is mentioned in Fredro Starr's song 'Dyin for Rap' he makes reference to Aaliyah's Lips (lips like Aaliyah)
  • In the song "Rock Bottom" by Pleasure P (formerly of the group Pretty Ricky) featuring Lil Wayne, Lil Wayne uses the first verse of Aaliyah's 'I Don't Wanna'.
  • TQ mentions Aaliyah in a couple of his songs ('Gone But Not Forgotten' and 'Paradise'), along with many other dead musicians.
  • French Rapper DJ Cam recorded a song off of his 2008 album dedicated to Aaliyah called "For Aaliyah".
  • Missy Elliott also dedicated her song and video for "Take Away" (featuring Ginuwine and Tweet) to Aaliyah
  • In Missy Elliott's 2002 Video for Work It, there is a scene in which she depicts Aaliyah on the back of her jacket during the first verse and both her and Left Eye on the hood of a car near the end of the second verse in which it reads, In Loving Memory.
  • Now! 8 was dedicated to Aaliyah, with a portion of the album's profits going to the Aaliyah Memorial Fund.
  • Bizzy Bone list several dead musicians at the end of his song Muddy Waters, Aaliyah is the third last.
  • Esham mentions Aaliyah in the song "No War". "Why Aaliyah have to die?"
  • Andre 3000 features a sample from the song 'Age Ain't Nothing But A Number' in the first 19 seconds ('Age ain't nothing but a number *DJ scratches* nothing but a number', looped three times) of the song 'Pink And Blue'.
  • In a reunion tour, New Kids on the Block pays a tribute to Aaliyah along with other entertainers, athletes, and the group's family members after performing the song "If You Go Away."
  • Boyz II Men song "Aaliyah's Song"
  • E-Dub, Drunken Master & Alley Life recorded the song about Aaliyah called "Baby Girl"
  • In Usher's video of U Turn, he dressed a black t-shirt with an Aaliyah picture on it.
  • In his album Shock Value, Timbaland made a dedication to Aaliyah - "This album is dedicated to my BabyGirl, Aaliyah. I miss and love you."
  • On Timbaland & Magoo's album Indecent Proposal, Timbaland said " No words can express how I feel. It's too deep express in words. I miss her."
  • Missy Elliott dedicated her album Under Construction to Aaliyah - "This album is dedicated to someone who was the first to take a chance and a new sound with unknown producer. Who did not care about how many hits we had. She just knew that the sound was something fresh and new. If she could take, she would take it with us. I thank you for that chance. Even now you're more than a woman because you were always one in a million and I wish I could write you a 4 page letter to tell you how I care for you. But we do not need a resolution to know that you are that somebody and that somebody is Aaliyah. Rest in Peace BabyGirl. I love you."
  • In the Acknowledgement and Thank You's section of Destiny's Child's 2001 album 8 Days of Christmas they said: "This is our friend Aaliyah. Your presence will be greatly missed. We love you. Rest in Peace."
  • Brandy's Full Moon: "Special tribute to Aaliyah - You are an angel."
  • At the MTV Video Music Awards 2001, Usher appeared with a shirt printed with the cover of the last Aaliyah CD.
  • Missy Elliott also appeared with a jacket printed with an Aaliyah picture on the back, at the MTV Video Music Awards 2001 too.
  • The Chicago native rapper Yung Berg has a tattoo of Aaliyah on the back of his neck.
  • In Fat Joe's "What's Luv" video, a girl appeared wearing a T-shirt with the image of Aaliyah.
  • In Jay-Z's "Song Cry" video, Damon Dash, Aaliyah's boyfriend at the time of her death, appeared wearing a T-shirt with the image of Aaliyah.
  • Missy Elliott appered in Monica video "All Eyez On Me" as special guest wearing a T-shirt with the image of Aaliyah.
  • Another T-shirt of Aaliyah. This time worn by Timbaland in Fabolous's "Holla Back" (featuring Timbaland) video.
  • Patti Labelle, who was honored with an award at the 2001 Soul Train Lady Of Soul Awards, dedicated it to Aaliyah.
  • Aaliyah is mentioned on Foxy Brown's song, "Big Bad Mama" (featuring Dru Hill) - "Rhyme deep in footwear, via spiga like Aaliyah, One in a Million."
  • Rapper Juelz Santana mention Aaliyah in the song "One Day I Smile" - "Once again a deep thought of Aaliyah crosses my mind."
  • Layzie Bone made a lyrical reference to Aaliyah on "For The Thug's That Gone"
  • Lil' Flip mentions Aaliyah in his song "Hall of Fame Graveyard" - "From Easy E to Aaliyah,we even lost Left Eye. How come the wack rappers live but the best die."
  • Pitbull mentions Aaliyah in "Secret Admirer" - "You got that sexy walk, you got dem pretty eyes, you are like Aaliyah, one in a million, dats how I feel inside. So I'm writin you dis one page letter to let you know what it is."
  • Monica mentions Aaliyah in "Go To Bed Mad" (featuring Tyrese) - "See we need a resolution, like that Aaliyah song."
  • The Game made a lyrical reference to Aaliyah on "Runnin" - "God let me in. give me a room by Aaliyah with ESPN."
  • Outkast mentions Aaliyah in "The Whole World" - "Mami, I'm coming, I hope you get off. Or rock your own boat like Aaliyah then talk back, back, forth, forth, get that sailor on course, course."
  • Wyclef Jean mentions Aaliyah in "Industry" - "Back and forth and forth and back, like Miss Aaliyah, man do I miss her."
  • Atlanta Rapper Gucci Mane mentions Aaliyah in his song "Feelin Myself" - "A shout out to Aaliyah cause her voice was so pretty."
  • Candy Hill, a Los Angeles based Hip Hop group, used the begining part from Aaliyah's "4 Page Letter" in the song "The Car Song" - "Yo, turn my music up. Up some more, up some more. Up a little bit more".


Main article: Aaliyah discography


  • Age Ain't Nothing but a Number (1994)
  • One in a Million (1996)
  • Aaliyah (2001)


  • I Care 4 U (2002)
  • Hits & Unreleased: The Ultimate Collection (2002)
  • Ultimate Aaliyah (2005)


Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Aaliyah


  • Romeo Must Die (2000) - Trish O'Day
  • Queen of the Damned (2002) - Akasha


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