Aaliyah Biography

Aaliyah Dana Haughton, 16 January 1979, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, d. 25 August 2001, Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island, Bahamas, West Indies. Although she grew up in Detroit, Michigan, Aaliyah pronounced Ah-Lee-Yah (‘highest, most exalted one’ in Swahili), initially came to attention as part of the ‘new jill swing’ movement in the mid-90s. Her early career was fostered by R. Kelly (although rumours of a personal relationship were disputed), and 1994’s debut Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number included the US Top 10 singles ‘Back & Forth’ and ‘At Your Best (You Are Love)’. She travelled to Kelly’s home in Chicago for the sessions while she was still a student at the Detroit High School of the Performing Arts. She remained a ‘straight A’s’ student throughout the first stage of her recording career, persevering with her education despite commercial success.

After breaking her partnership with Kelly, Aaliyah released 1996’s superior follow-up, One In A Million, on which she worked with hotshot producer Timbaland. Soundtrack work followed, with contributions to Anastasia (‘Journey To The Past’) and Dr. Dolittle (‘Are You That Somebody?’). Aaliyah also began filming on her screen debut in Andrzej Bartkowiak’s Romeo Must Die. ‘Try Again’, taken from the movie soundtrack, went to the top of the US singles chart in June 2000. The following year’s self-titled third album demonstrated a new maturity and confidence, with Aaliyah bidding farewell to her teenage years and fashioning a bold new sound with collaborator Timbaland.

Tragedy struck in August 2001 when, after filming a video in the Bahamas, Aaliyah and various members of her record company attempted to fly home. The small light aircraft crashed killing Aaliyah and her entourage. Her third album posthumously climbed to the number 1 position in America, while in the UK ‘More Than A Woman’ reached the top of the singles chart in January 2002.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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