Remembering Aaliyah 20 years after her tragic death in a plane crash

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In the 20 years since her tragic death, Aaliyah has been immortalized in songs by artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Drake, on a mural in New York’s East Village, and in the musical production and style of ‘Alicia Keys, Ciara, Lorde and many other performers.

A delicately pretty face paired with an instinct to seamlessly integrate R&B and hip-hop, Aaliyah was on three albums in a career when she died in a plane crash leaving the Bahamian site of a music video shoot. for “Rock the Boat” on August 25th. , 2001.

Aaliyah was only 22 years old and her legacy was nurtured by Missy Elliott and Timbaland – who co-wrote and produced most of the tracks from her 1996 second album, “One in a Million” – as well as Gladys Knight, her aunt by marriage. .

Pictures: A look at Aaliyah’s life

Fans of the five-time Grammy nominee also backed up a supporting drumbeat for the singer, and last week one of their long-standing calls – for all of Aaliyah’s music to be shown on streaming services – was made with the arrival of “One in a Million” on digital platforms. The albums “ΛΛLIYΛH” and “I Care 4 U” will follow on September 10th and October 8th respectively.

Her debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number”, was produced by R. Kelly, who was briefly married to an underage Aaliyah in 1994. Kelly is currently on trial for alleged sex crimes involving numerous women and girls. , including Aaliyah. In court last week, jurors heard testimony about the tangled chains used to obtain a fake ID for the singer, who was 15 when she married Kelly. Marriage documents incorrectly indicated her age as 18, according to witness testimony. The marriage was called off in 1995.

This combined photo shows singer R. Kelly in Chicago on May 9, 2008 and late R&B singer Aaliyah in New York City on May 9, 2001.

Born in Brooklyn, New York as Aaliyah Dana Haughton and raised in Detroit, Aaliyah racked up five Top 10 hits from Billboard’s Hot 100 as well as a series of No.1 songs on the pop and R&B charts.

Download the frenzy: Fans rush to stream Aaliyah’s ‘One in a Million’

She released her self-titled third album on July 17, 2001, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart (behind Alicia Keys’ announced debut, “Songs in A Minor”). This earned her a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album (which Keys won). “Aaliyah” was recorded as the rising star stretched her acting ambitions and filmed her second film, “Queen of the Damned”, in Australia.

Aaliyah in "Queen of the Damned."

One of Aaliyah’s producers on the album, Eric Seats, told Vibe magazine in 2016 that Aaliyah was adamant that “Rock the Boat” would be the album’s second single after the poor performance of “We. Need a Resolution “, the first song sent to the radio.

“I remember hearing her say, ‘This must be next.’ She wasn’t aggressive that way that if she didn’t like something she would be treated, but she wouldn’t be treated in front of 20 people. It’s not his style, but I don’t know much about it as a producer, ”Seats said.

Aaliyah and her crew traveled to the Bahamas to film the video for “Rock the Boat” and on the return flight to Opa-locka, Florida on a chartered plane, she and the other passengers – including her makeup artist Christopher Maldonado and her hairdresser Eric Foreman – were killed after the plane crashed at Marsh Harbor Airport moments after take off.

In August 2001, Aaliyah's life was cut short when her plane crashed after taking off from a Bahamian runway.  She was only 22 years old.

In a September 8, 2001 investigation, The New York Times delved into the tangle of events on the day of Aaliyah’s flight, including the unfortunate decision to enlist the small charter company Blackhawk International Airways and the excessive load and dispatch of the weights that contributed to the crash. Cessna pilot Luis Morales was hired by the company two days before the crash and was not cleared to fly the plane, federal aviation officials said at Orlando Sentinel in August 2001. Morales said also exaggerated his flight hours. experience and 12 days before the accident did not dispute a charge of possession of cocaine in July 2001.

Today, 20 years after her untimely death, Aaliyah remains a music mystic, celebrated for her accomplishments and still mourned for the future she never knew.


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