Aaliyah Dana Haughton first gained recognition at the age of 10, when she appeared on the television show Star Search and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. At the age of 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson’s Blackground Records. She has been credited for helping to redefine contemporary R&B, pop and hip hop,earning her the nicknames the “Princess of R&B” and “Queen of Urban Pop”. Billboard lists her as the tenth most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years, and the 27th most successful in history.
At the height of her stardom, a fatal plane crash ended her life.Aaliyah’s music continued to achieve commercial success with several posthumous releases and has sold an estimated 24 to 32 million albums worldwide.
Singer and actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born on January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York.She was of African-American descent.Aaliyah’s mother enrolled Aaliyah in voice lessons at an early age.She started performing at weddings, church choir and charity events.When Aaliyah was five years old, her family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she was raised along with her older brother, Rashad.She attended a Catholic school, Gesu Elementary, where in first grade she was cast in the stage play Annie, which inspired her to become an entertainer. In Detroit, her father began working in the warehouse business, one of his brother-in-law Barry Hankerson’s widening interests. Her mother stayed home and raised Aaliyah and her brother.
Throughout Aaliyah’s life, she had a good relationship with Rashad, who recalled Aaliyah having a beautiful voice as a child.Aaliyah’s family was very close due to the struggles of her grandparents and when they moved to Detroit, the Hankersons were ready to take them in if necessary. These same bonds led to ties in the music industry, under the Blackground Records label.Aaliyah’s father Michael Haughton served as her personal manager. Her mother assisted her in her career while brother Rashad Haughton and cousin Jomo Hankerson worked with her consistently. Her father’s illness ended his co-management of Aaliyah with her mother Diane Haughton. She ran all of her decisions by Rashad.
Aaliyah’s mother was a vocalist, and her uncle, Barry Hankerson, was an entertainment lawyer who had been married to Gladys Knight, who was essential to the start of Aaliyah’s career as she gave her many of her earlier performances. As a child, Aaliyah traveled with Knight and worked with an agent in New York to audition for commercials and television programs, including Family Matters; she went on to appear on Star Search at the age of ten.Aaliyah chose to begin auditioning. Her mother made the decision to drop her surname.She auditioned for several record labels and at age 11 appeared in concerts alongside Knight.She had several pet animals during her childhood, including ducks, snakes and iguanas.
Her grandmother died in 1991. Years after her death, Aaliyah said her grandmother supported everyone in the family and always wanted to hear her sing, as well as admitting that she “spoiled” her and her brother Rashad. Aaliyah said she thought of her grandmother whenever she fell into depression.
During her audition for acceptance to the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, Aaliyah sang the song “Ave Maria” in its entirety in the Italian language.Aaliyah, who maintained a perfect 4.0 grade-point average when graduating from high school, felt education was important. She saw fit to keep her grades up despite the pressures and time constraints brought on her during the early parts of her career. She labeled herself as a perfectionist and recalled always being a good student.
Aaliyah’s family played a major role in the course of her career. Aaliyah was known to have usually been accompanied by members of her family and the “Rock the Boat” filming was credited by Rashad Haughton as being the first and only time her family was not present.
Rumors circulated of a relationship between Aaliyah and R. Kelly, including the allegation that they had secretly married without her parents’ knowledge. It was later revealed a marriage certificate that listed the couple married on August 31, 1994, in Sheraton Gateway Suites in Rosemont, Illinois. Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time, was listed as 18 on the certificate; the illegal marriage was annulled in February 1995 by her parents.Aaliyah admitted in court documents that she had lied about her age. In May 1997, she filed suit in Cook County seeking to have all records of the marriage expunged because she was not old enough under state law to get married without her parents’ consent. It was reported that she cut off all professional and personal ties with Kelly after the marriage was annulled and ceased having contact with him.
Aaliyah was dating co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records Damon Dash at the time of her death and, though they were not formally engaged, in interviews given after Aaliyah’s death, Dash claimed the couple had planned to marry. Aaliyah and Dash met in 2000 through his accountant and formed a friendship.The relationship was mentioned in the lyrics of Jay-Z’s remix to her song “Miss You”, released after her death.
Aaliyah was killed on August 25, 2001, when a small Cessna passenger plane carrying the singer and her video crew crashed and burst into flames shortly after takeoff from Abaco Island in the Bahamas, where they had just completed work on a video. The plane was headed for Miami, Florida.Aaliyah and the eight others on board—pilot Luis Morales III, hair stylist Eric Forman, Anthony Dodd, security guard Scott Gallin, family friend Keith Wallace, make-up stylist Christopher Maldonado, and Blackground Records employees Douglas Kratz and Gina Smith—were all killed. Aaliyah was 22 years old at the time of her death.
In 1997, Aaliyah also became the spokesperson for Tommy Hilfiger Corporation.During Aaliyah’s campaign with Tommy Hilfiger, the company sold over 2,400 pairs of the red, white and blue baggy jeans that she wore in their advertisements which prompted them to restock 5,000 more pairs of those jeans.Aaliyah participated in fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger’s All America Tour and was featured in Tommy Jean ads, which depicted her in boxer shorts, baggy jeans and a tube top. Hilfiger’s brother, Andy, called it “a whole new look” that was “classy but sexy”.
Aaliyah focused on her public image throughout her career. She often wore baggy clothes and sunglasses, stating that she wanted to be herself. She often wore black clothing, starting a trend for similar fashion among women in the United States and Japan.Aaliyah’s fashionable style has been credited for being an influence on new fashion trends called “Health Goth and “Ghetto Goth” also known as GHE20 GOTH1K. Carson Daly, a former VJ on MTV’s Total Request Live commented on Aaliyah’s style by saying that she was “cutting edge” ,”always one step ahead of the curve” and that “the TRL audience looks to her to figure out what’s hot and what’s new”.
When she changed her hairstyle, Aaliyah took her mother’s advice and covered her left eye, much like Veronica Lake. The look has become known as her signature and been referred to as fusion of “unnerving emotional honesty” and “a sense of mystique”.
In August of 2003, clothing retailer Christian Dior donated profits from sales in honor of Aaliyah. On August 24, 2017 MAC Cosmetics announced that an Aaliyah collection will be made available in the summer of 2018.The Aaliyah for Mac collection was released on June 20 online and June 21 in stores.The Aaliyah for Mac collectors box was sold at $250 and it sold out within minutes during the first day of its initial release.
Aaliyah’s dress that she wore at the 2000 MTV Video Music Award’s was featured in the most memorable fashion moments at the VMA’s list by the fashion publication Harper’s Bazaar. In October 2015 Aaliyah was featured in the 10 women who became Denim Style icons list created by the fashion publication Vogue.