Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001), better known simply as her stage name Aaliyah, was an American R&B singer, dancer, fashion model and actress. Introduced to audiences by R&B singer R. Kelly, Aaliyah became famous in her own right during the mid-1990s with several hit records from the songwriting/production team of Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott and Timbaland, and their associate Steve "Static" Garrett.
Notable for recording several hit records, including five number one R&B hits, one number one pop hit, and seven top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, Aaliyah sold over 24 million records worldwide during her career. The singer also modelled for Tommy Hilfiger and starred in two motion pictures before her death in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.
Life and career
Childhood and early career
Aaliyah was born in Brooklyn, New York to Michael and Diane Haughton. She grew up in Detroit, Michigan where she attended various schools including the Detroit High School for Fine and Performing Arts. Aaliyah signed with her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground label in 1993 and released her debut album, titled Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, in 1994. The album reached platinum status within months, and featured the gold-selling singles "Back and Forth" (number one U.S. R&B, 3 weeks), and "At Your Best (You Are Love)" (number two U.S. R&B), a cover of the 1976 Isley Brothers single. The album went on to reach double platinum status with sales of over two million copies in the U.S. and five million worldwide.
It was revealed that in 1994, when she was 15, she was married to R&B singer/songwriter R. Kelly, the producer of Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. VIBE magazine in 1995 published a copy of their marriage certificate and claimed Aaliyah had falsified her age as 18 so she and Kelly could be married. Neither agreed or denied the accusations. Both parties had the marriage quickly annulled when the press found out about the union. R. Kelly did not work on any of Aaliyah's future recordings.
One in a Million (1996)
One in a Million, Aaliyah's sophomore album, was chiefly written and produced by then unknowns Missy Elliott and Tim "Timbaland" Mosley and released on August 27 1996. The album was a landmark in Aaliyah's career, introducing Aaliyah's more mature side. It embarked the newfound chemistry of Aaliyah and Timbaland. The album was certified double-platinum within a year, making Aaliyah a major R&B star and igniting the successful careers of Missy Elliott and Timbaland. One in a Million featured the international smash hit "If Your Girl Only Knew" (number one U.S. R&B, 2 weeks), "One in a Million," (number one U.S. R&B airplay, six weeks) and the top 10 U.S. R&B single "The One I Gave My Heart To," a ballad written by Diane Warren. The album also included "4 Page Letter" which also received significant airplay on U.S. pop and R&B radio.
Tommy Hilfiger took notice of Aaliyah's "street but sweet" image and gave Aaliyah her first endorsement deal. He immediately signed Aaliyah onto print campaigns, runway shows, and a commercial. During this period, Aaliyah would also make guest appearances on albums by artists such as Missy Elliott, Timbaland & Magoo, Ginuwine and Playa. Timbaland and Playa's frontman Steve "Static" Garrett would remain Aaliyah's principal collaborators for the duration of her career. To date, One in a Million has sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. and eight million worldwide.
Movie roles and soundtracks
In 1997, Aaliyah appeared on the soundtrack album for the Fox Animation Studios animated feature Anastasia, singing the pop version of "Journey to the Past". The song was nominated for an Academy Award, and Aaliyah performed the song at the 1997 Academy Awards ceremony, making history. Aaliyah became the youngest recording artist to perform at the ceremony.
Aaliyah had a huge hit in 1998 with "Are You that Somebody" (number one U.S. R&B airplay, eight weeks), the main single from the Doctor Doolittle soundtrack. Its video was the third most-played on MTV that year, and the song's success helped make Aaliyah a household name. The single was a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart.
In 2000, she co-starred with Jet Li in the martial-arts film Romeo Must Die, which debuted at number two at the box office. Aaliyah and Timbaland executive produced the film's soundtrack album and Aaliyah contributed four songs: "Are you Feelin' Me?," "I Don't Wanna," "Back in One Piece," a duet with DMX, and the international number one hit "Try Again." Aaliyah made history once again with her hit single "Try Again." It became the first song in history to ever reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on the strength of its radio airplay, without any single sales factored. After the huge success of "Try Again" at radio, a 12" maxi single was released for consumer purchase. The radio-only single, "I Don't Wanna", peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number five on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
In 2001, Aaliyah went to Austrailia to co-star with Stuart Townsend in the film Queen of the Damned, an adaptation of the Anne Rice novel of the same name. While filming Queen of the Damned, Aaliyah also recorded most of her third studio album, Aaliyah.
"We Need a Resolution," the first single from Aaliyah's highly-anticipated third studio album, was released in April of 2001. The self-titled Aaliyah was released four months later on July 17 2001. The album was a critical success, introducing a darker and edgier side to Aaliyah's music, and was noted as having showcased her growth as an artist. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 187,000 copies in its first week, and was certified gold within four weeks.
In the summer of 2001, Aaliyah filmed the video for Aaliyah's intended second single, "More than a Woman". After the video was completed, however, it was decided "Rock the Boat" should be the second single instead, and the "More than a Woman" video was temporarily shelved.
Aaliyah traveled to the Bahamas in August 2001 to film the "Rock the Boat" video with director Hype Williams. After filming was completed, Aaliyah and her entourage boarded a Cessna 402 small aircraft, which was to take them to Miami, Florida. The plane took off but quickly descended and crashed in the forest. All nine people aboard, including Aaliyah, the pilot and the other seven passengers, were killed in the crash. Some, including Aaliyah, died immediately; some later, in the hospital. Investigators determined the plane was overloaded by several hundred pounds — the passengers had been asked to leave some luggage behind and they had refused — and an autopsy of the pilot revealed cocaine and alcohol in his blood. Reports have also suggested the pilot of the plane falsely obtained his licence from Black Hawk Airways by showing hundreds of hours never flown, suggesting he was not qualified to pilot the plane to begin with.
"Rock the Boat" went on to become a posthumous hit on radio (reaching number two on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles charts and number 14 on the Hot 100) and video channels, and the news of Aaliyah's death gave her album a notable sales boost, pushing it to number one on the Billboard 200. The album's two subsequent singles, "More than A Woman" reached number seven on Billboard's Hot R&B singles chart and number 25 on Hot 100. "I Care 4 U" reached number three on Billboard's Hot R&B singles chart and number 16 on the Hot 100, the latter attaining success even without the promotional push of a music video. the Aaliyah album went on to reach double platinum status, with sales of 2.5 million in the U.S. and six million worldwide.
Queen of the Damned was released in early 2002. Before its release, Aaliyah's brother Rashad was called upon to re-dub several of his sister's lines during the post-production ADR process. Upon its release, the film debuted at number one.
In 2002, a posthumous greatest hits collection, I Care 4 You, was released in Aaliyah's name. In addition to well-known hits, it also included six previously unreleased songs from the Blackground vaults Aaliyah had recorded over the course of her career, including "Miss You," which became the album's lead single. Its video features Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, Toni Braxton and DMX, among others, paying tribute to Aaliyah.
Aaliyah was to have had a supporting role as the wife of Harold Perrineau Jr.'s character in the two sequels to The Matrix; her role was ultimately filled by Nona Gaye. Other films in which Aaliyah was signed to star in were Honey (which instead was filmed with Jessica Alba as the star), and a Whitney Houston-produced remake of the 1976 film Sparkle. In addition, Aaliyah and one of her agents had pitched and inked a deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures for her to star in a film based upon a true story about interracial love.
- Aaliyah and former Beatle George Harrison made UK Chart History in January 2002 when they scored the first, and to this date only, back-to-back posthumous number one hits. Aaliyah's "More than a Woman", released on January 7 and topped the chart on January 13, was followed by Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", re-released on January 14 and topped the chart on January 20.
- In early/mid 2005 four previously unreleased Aaliyah tracks were leaked to the Internet: a remake of her aunt-by-marriage Gladys Knight's "Giving Up", "Where Could He Be" featuring Missy Elliot and Tweet (which was sent to radio stations), "Steady Ground" featuring Static from Playa, and a duet with Digital Black of Playa entitled "Dont Think They Know".
- Grammy-winning singer Gladys Knight was Aaliyah's aunt, by marriage.
|Year||Title||Billboard 200 peak||US sales||Worldwide sales|
|1994||Age Ain't Nothing But A Number||18||2.2 million||5 million|
|1996||One In A Million||18||3.0 million||8 million|
|2001||Aaliyah||1||2.5 million||6 million|
|Year||Title||Billboard 200 peak||US sales||Worldwide sales|
|2000||Romeo Must Die
(includes four of her songs)
|3||1 million||3 million|
|2002||I Care 4 U
|3||1.6 million||3 million|
|Year||Song||US||US R&B||US Dance||UK|
|1994||"Back and Forth"||5||1||-||16|
|1994||"At Your Best (You Are Love)"||6||2||-||27|
|1994||"Age Ain't Nothing But a Number"||75||35||-||32|
|1995||"Down With the Clique"||-||-||-||33|
|1995||"The Thing I Like"||-||-||-||33|
|1996||"I Need You Tonight"
(Junior MAFIA featuring Aaliyah) 1
|1996||"If Your Girl Only Knew"||11||1||-||21|
|1996||"One In a Million" 2||25||1||2||15|
|1996||"Are You Ready" 2||-||42||-||-|
|1996||"Got To Give It Up"||-||-||-||37|
|1997||"4-Page Letter" 2||59||12||-||24|
|1997||"Hot Like Fire" (remix) 2||-||31||-||30|
|1997||"The One I Gave My Heart To"||9||8||18||30|
|1997||"Journey To the Past"||-||-||-||22|
|1997||"Up Jumps the Boogie"
(Timbaland & Magoo featuring Aaliyah and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott)
|1998||"Are You That Somebody?" 3||4||1||-||11|
|1999||"You Won't See Me Tonight"
(Nas featuring Aaliyah)
|2000||"I Don't Wanna"||35||5||-||-|
|2000||"Come Back In One Piece"
|2001||"We Need a Resolution"
|2001||"Rock the Boat"||14||2||-||12|
|2002||"More Than a Woman"||25||7||11||1|
|2002||"I Care 4 U"||16||3||-||-|
(remix features Jay-Z)
|2002||"Don't Know What To Tell Ya"||-||-||-||22|
- Did not chart on the Hot 100, but hit number 60 on Hot 100 Singles Sales.
- Did not chart on the Hot 100 or Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts (Billboard rules at the time prevented album cuts from charting). Chart peak listed here represents Hot 100 Airplay and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay data.
- "Are You That Somebody?" was in the midst of its chart run when Billboard changed its policy to allow airplay-only singles to chart on the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. It climbed to number four on Hot 100 Airplay and number one on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and was on the decline when the rules were changed. Its official Hot 100 peak is number 21.
- Aaliyah awards for a listing of awards won by the performer.