Baby Girl’s impact on music 10 years later.
On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah Dana Haughton’s plane crashed en route to Florida from the Bahamas where she was filming her music video for “Rock the Boat”. 10 years later, Aaliyah is still ranked by Billboard magazine as the 10th most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years.
The Brooklyn-born/Detroit-raised princess got her first taste of the spotlight after appearing on Star Search at age 10. By 12, she signed her first record contract with Jive, and released her first album, the now classic Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, produced by R. Kelly, which sold three million copies.
Her second album, produced by Timbaland and Missy Elliot proved that Aaliyah was here to stay. One in a Million which included the singles “If Your Girl Only Knew”, Hot Like Fire and 4 Page Letter, went on to sell over 3.7 million copies in the United States and over eight million copies worldwide.
In 2000, Aaliyah appeared in her first major 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 feat. “Try Again” earned Aaliyah a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist.
After completing Romeo Must Die, Aaliyah began to work on her second film, Queen of the Damned. She played the role of an ancient vampire, Queen Akasha, which she described as a “manipulative, crazy, sexual being”. She was scheduled to film for the sequels of The Matrix as the character Zee.
Aaliyah went on to release what would be her last album, Aaliyah, in July 2001. Produced by Timbaland, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. With a near perfect album and a number of huge movie deals in the works, Aaliyah was on her way to become a bonofide superstar.
On August 25, 2001, at 6:45 pm (EST), Aaliyah and various members of the record company boarded a twin-engine Cessna 402B to head home after filming wrapped for her ‘Rock the Boat’ video. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed suddenly. Aaliyah and the eight others on board, pilot Luis Morales III, hair stylist Eric Forman, Anthony Dodd, security guard Scott Gallin, video producer Douglas Kratz, stylist Christopher Maldonado, and Blackground Records employees Keith Wallace and Gina Smith, were all killed.
Aaliyah’s funeral was held on August 31, 2001, at the Saint Ignatius Loyola Church in New York. Her body was set in a silver casket, which was carried in a glass hearse and was drawn by horse. Over 3,000 mourners were in attendance of the procession. Among those in attendance to the private ceremony were Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Gladys Knight, Lil’ Kim and Sean Combs, Busta Rhymes, Mike Tyson, Jay-Z. After the service, 22 white doves were released to symbolize each year of Aaliyah’s life. She was interred in a crypt in a private room in the Rosewood Mausoleum at the Ferncliff Cemetery.
Aaliyah is one of R&B’s most important artist and has been credited for helping redefine R&B and hip hop in the 1990s, leaving an indelible imprint on the music industry as a whole.
Aaliyah always kept it sexy yet classy. Her music stays relevant to this day. She was a princess in every sense of the word. Let’s continue to keep her legacy alive.