On this date ten years ago the world lost a talent greater than we were privileged to witness, reach her potential. Aaliyah Haughton graced this earth with her presence for twenty-two years and blessed us with music that still lives on today. Although she only gave us three albums, the music is timeless!
Aaliyah’s first album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” was released in 1994 by Jive and Blackground Records. It featured two hit singles ‘Back & Fourth’ and ‘At Your Best (You Are Love).” Both singles went gold. The album debuted at #24 on the Billboard Charts, selling 74k copies in its first week. It would later go on to sell three million copies in the US, where it was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. R. Kelly, who became her mentor as well as rumored husband, produced the album. Most critics liked the blend of Aaliyah’s “silky and sultry vocals” and Kelly’s “new jack swing” so much they credited her for redefining R&B.
After allegations of an illegal marriage to R. Kelly, Aaliyah ended her relationship with Jive and signed with Atlantic records. It would be Atlantic Records and Blackground Records that released her second album “One in a Million” in 1996. It featured a bounty of hit singles; "If Your Girl Only Knew", "One in a Million", "Got to Give It Up", "4 Page Letter", "Hot Like Fire", and "The One I Gave My Heart To". The album debuted at #20 on the Billboard Charts, selling 41k copies in the first week. It would later go on to sell four million copies in the USA, where it was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. “One in a Million” has been labeled Aaliyah’s breakout album as well as a major milestone in the careers of Missy Elliot and Timbaland who both wrote and produced the bulk of the album. “One in a Million” is currently out of print in the US!
In 2000, Aaliyah introduced the world to another of her many talents, acting. She appeared in her first major film, “Romeo Must Die” a modern day Romeo & Juliet where Romeo is Asian and Juliet is African-American set it the mean streets of Oakland, California. The movie starred Aaliyah, Anthony Anderson, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, Jet Li, and Russell Wong. The movie debuted at #2 at the box office earning eighteen million dollars in its opening weekend. It later grossed ninety-one million dollars worldwide.
In 2002, Aaliyah starred in her second film “Queen of the Damned”. The movie was the film adaptation of the third novel of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series, “The Queen of the Damned”. However, the film’s plot contains many plot elements from the latter novel’s predecessor, The Vampire Lestat. It starred Aaliyah, Lena Olin, Marguerite Moreau, Paul McGann, Stuart Townsend, and Vincent Perez. The movie earned a whopping forty-five million dollars worldwide, despite poor reviews.
Aaliyah, along with Virgin and Blackground Records, released her third album, “Aaliyah” in 2001. It featured several singles “We Need a Resolution”, “Rock the Boat”, “More Than a Woman”, and “I Care 4 U”. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard Charts, selling 190k copies in its first week. This album, like the two before it, was certified double platinum. It is also out of print in the US. This album set records that neither has nor may ever be broken. Sadly, it would become her final album.
On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah along with eight others were killed in an airplane crash in the Bahamas after filming the video for her single “Rock the Boat”. The plane, a twin engine Cessna 402B, was a smaller plane than the Cessna 404 in which they had originally flown. As a result, when the plane attempted to depart, it was over its max takeoff weight and carrying one extra passenger than allotted, subsequently resulting in the plane crashing shortly after takeoff taking the lives of all on board.