“All I can do is leave it in God’s hands and hope that my fans feel where I’m coming from.”
Aaliyah - The Rising Star
From a young age, Aaliyah’s mother, who was a vocalist, began enrolling her for voice lessons. She went to a Catholic school and attended Gesu Elementary, where she first got the taste of performing in the first grade. She landed a part in the play Annie and made it her goal to be an entertainer.
Her uncle, Barry Hankerson, was an entertainment lawyer and once married to Gladys Knight. As a child, she traveled with Gladys, as well as with an agent in New York to audition for television and commercials, including Family Matters. At the age of nine, she appeared on Star Search and thereafter she auditioned for many record labels and appeared in concerts, side by side with Gladys Knight at the age of eleven.
At the age of twelve, her uncle signed a distribution deal with Jive Records and he signed her to his Blackground Records label. She was later introduced to the recording artist and producer R. Kelly, who became Aaliyah’s mentor, in addition to being the lead songwriter and producer of the album Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number recorded when she was fourteen. It was released in June 1994 and the album reached number eighteen on Billboard 200, which sold over two million copies in the U.S.
Aaliyah- Going to the Top
The debut single “Back & Forth” topped the charts for three weeks on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and was certified Gold. Her second single, the cover of The Isley Brothers At Your Best (You Are Loved), reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100, which was also certified Gold. The track Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, reached the seventh fifth spot on the Hot 100 chart.
During the release of Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, rumors began to surface that there was a relationship between her and R. Kelly, but both denied it.
In 1996, she left Jive Records and signed with Atlantic Records. She teamed up with record producers Timberland and Missy Elliot and they contributed to her second album, One in a Million. This was the album which featured the single If Your Girl Only Knew and it topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop for two straight weeks. Also featured, were the singles Hot like Fire and 4 Page Letter. One in a million, reached number eighteen on Billboard 200 and sold over two million albums in the U.S. and eight million worldwide. The next year, she was featured on Timberland & Magoo’s debut single Up Jumps da Boogie.
In 2000, she got her first major role in Romeo Must Die, a loose interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. It grossed up to 18.6 million the first weekend it hit theaters and ranked number two at the box office. As well as acting in the movie, she also was an executive producer of the film’s soundtrack, which featured four songs contributed by her, including the single Try Again. This topped Billboard Hot 100 resulting in her being the first artist to top the charts based only on airplay.
The World of Film
In July 2001, she went ahead with the release of her eponymous album, Aaliyah produced mainly by Timberland the album debuted at number two on Billboard 200 and sold 187,000 copies in the first week. We Need a Resolution placed at number fifty nine on Billboard Hot 100.
August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and members of the recording company boarded a plane in Marsh Harbor, after finishing filming the music video for Rock the Boat. Shortly after, the plane took off and it crashed 200 feet from the runway. All aboard were killed. She suffered from “severe burns and a blow to the head.”
Gone to Soon
Did you know that...
- …after her death, her third studio album, Aaliyah, went from number nineteen to number one on Billboard 200 and Rock the Boat was released as a posthumous single?
- …not only was she a singer and actress, but she was a model as well?
- …she played herself in the police drama TV-series New York Undercover?