Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One In A Million: RIP Aaliyah


Nine years ago today (August 25th), Aaliyah Dana Haughton, Anthony Dodd, Eric Foreman, Scott Gallin, Keeth Wallace, Gina Smith, Douglas Kratz, Christopher Maldonado, and Luis Morales died tragically in a plane crash that shocked everyone. At the time of the tragic accident, Aaliyah was just 22 years-old. She is remembered for her amazing singing voice and undeniable beauty.

Aaliyah was born on January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. She later moved to Detroit and was raised there. At age 12 she was signed to Jive Records and in June 1994, her debut album peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 200 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. I remember jamming to this song at age 8...


The successful single was followed with "At Your Best (You Are Love)" and "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number". In 1996, Aaliyah left Jive Records and signed to Atlantic Records. She worked with record producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who contributed to her second studio album, "One in a Million." The album yielded the single "If Your Girl Only Knew", which topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for two weeks.


It also generated the singles "Hot like Fire" and "4 Page Letter". Aaliyah attended the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts, where she majored in drama and graduated in 1997 with a 4.0 grade point average and began her acting career that same year; she played herself in the police drama television series "New York Undercover". Around the same time, 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.



In 2000, Aaliyah landed her first major movie role in Romeo Must Die. Aliyah served as an executive producer of the film soundtrack, where she contributed four songs. "Try Again" was released as a single from the soundtrack; the song topped the Billboard Hot 100, making Aaliyah the first artist to top the chart based solely on airplay. The music video won the Best Female Video and Best Video from a Film awards at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. It also earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist. The soundtrack went on to sell 1.5 million copies in the United States.


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 her eponymous album, "Aaliyah", in July 2001. Produced primarily by Timbaland, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 187,000 copies in its first week. The first single from the album, "We Need a Resolution", peaked at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100. On August 25, 2001, at 6:45 pm, Aaliyah and various members of the record company boarded a twin engine Cessna 402B (N8097W) at Marsh Harbour, Abaco Islands, The Bahamas, to travel to the airport in Opa-locka, Florida, after they completed filming the music video for "Rock the Boat". The group was unaware that the plane was unable to hold all the equipment of the Cessna 404 they had initially flown in by. Aaliyah, 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 killed. "Rock the Boat" is the last visual memory we have of Aaliyah, and what a beautiful memory it is...

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