Aaliyah Dana Haughton was a model, singer, actress, and dancer. Aaliyah Haughton was born on January 16, 2001, in Brooklyn, New York, to Diane and Micheal “Miguel” Haughton. Her mother encouraged her to take vocal lessons as a child. She sang at weddings, churches, and charity functions. Her family relocated to Detroit, Michigan, when she was five years old. Aaliyah appeared on Star Search as a ten-year-old in 1989, performing the song “My Funny Valentine.” Aaliyah attended the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts in Detroit, Michigan.
Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, signed her to his record label, Blackground Records, when she was 14 years old in 1993. Hankerson also introduced her to Aaliyah’s mentor, Robert Sylvester “R. Kelly” Kelly. In 1994, he produced her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. The album sold two million units and was certified double platinum. It featured the singles “Back and Forth,” “At Your Best (You Are Love),” “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” “Down with the Clique,” and “The Thing I Like.” It was also nominated for three Billboard Music Awards (1994, 1995, and 1996), as well as two Soul Train Music Awards (1995).
Aaliyah signed with Atlantic Records in 1996. She worked with Timothy Zachery “Timberland” Mosley and Melissa Arnette “Missy Elliot” Elliot on the project. One In A Million was Aaliyah’s second album, and it included the singles “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “Got to Give It Up,” “One In A Million,” “4 Page Letter,” “The One I Gave My Heart To,” and “Hot Like Fire.” That album was certified multiplatinum after selling three million copies. The album received a Soul Train Music Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Album.
Aaliyah’s final album, Aaliyah, was released in 2001. The singles from this album were “We Need a Resolution,” “More Than a Woman,” and “Rock the Boat.” Her previous album sold two million copies and was certified double platinum. Aside from music, Aaliyah appeared in the films Romeo Must Die (2000) and Queen of the Damned (released after her death in 2002).
Despite her meteoric rise to fame, Aaliyah’s career has been marred by controversy. Without her parents’ permission, she married R Kelly illegally in 1994. The marriage certificate stated that Aaliyah was 18 years old, despite the fact that she was 15 at the time, and that R Kelly was 27. In February 1995, her parents annulled the marriage.
Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash with eight other people on August 25, 2001, in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. Missy Elliot, Timberland, Gladys Knight, Kimberly Denise “Lil Kim” Jones, and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs were among the celebrities who attended Aaliyah’s private funeral on August 31, 2001 at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.
Aaliyah was dating Damon Dash, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, at the time of her death. She was also set to star in several films at the time of her death, including The Matrix Reloaded, which was released in 2003.