Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001), who performed under the name Aaliyah, was an American recording artist, actress and model. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in Detroit, Michigan. At an early age, she appeared on the television show “Star Search” and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight.
At age 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and Blackground Records by her uncle, Barry Hankerson. He introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album, “Age Ain't Nothing but a Number,” which was recorded when she was 14.
Released in June 1994, the album peaked at #18 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and sold over three million copies in the United States. Aaliyah's debut single, “Back & Forth,” topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for three weeks and was certified gold by the RIAA. The second single, a cover of The Isley Brothers' “At Your Best (You Are Love),” peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and was also certified Ggold by the RIAA. The title track, “Age Ain't Nothing but a Number,” peaked at #75 on the Hot 100. Additionally, she released “The Thing I Like” as part of the soundtrack to the 1994 film “A Low Down Dirty Shame.”
After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed to Atlantic Records.
Aaliyah worked with record producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott for her second album, “One in a Million,” which sold two million copies in the U.S. and over eight million copies worldwide. It peaked at #18 on the Billboard 200and was later certified 2x platinum. The album yielded the single “If Your Girl Only Knew,” which topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for two weeks. It also generated the singles “Hot like Fire” and “4 Page Letter.”
She contributed on the soundtrack album for the Fox Animation Studios animated feature “Anastasia,” performing a cover version of “Journey to the Past“ which earned songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Aaliyah performed the song at the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony and became the youngest singer to perform at the event.
Aaliyah's song “Are You That Somebody?” was featured on the “Dr. Dolittle” soundtrack and peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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 filmed her part in “Queen of the Damned.”
She released her third and final album, “Aaliyah,” in 2001. Produced by Timbaland, the album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. The first single from the album, “We Need a Resolution,” peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album received three Grammy Award nominations, including Best R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Rock the Boat” and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “More Than a Woman.”
On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and eight others were killed in an airplane crash in The Bahamas after filming the music video for the single “Rock the Boat.” Since then, Aaliyah's music has achieved commercial success with several posthumous releases. Selling over 32 million albums worldwide, she has been credited for helping redefine R&B and hip hop, earning her the nickname “Princess of R&B.”