The music world is mourning the loss of R&B vocalist and actress Aaliyah. The 22-year-old singer was among nine persons killed late Saturday, when a small aircraft, destined for the U.S., crashed shortly after takeoff in the Bahamas.
The name Aaliyah is Swahili for highest, most exalted one. Her parents claim that the name was chosen long before Aaliyah was conceived. They selected it to express their high hopes for their child.
Born Aaliyah Haughton in Brooklyn, New York, she grew up in Detroit, Michigan. As a child, Aaliyah appeared on the talent competition television program Star Search. At age 11, she performed a five-night stand as part of soul singer Gladys Knight's troupe.
While attending the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts, Aaliyah came to the attention of singer-record producer R. Kelly. While continuing her studies in Detroit, and maintaining "straight A" grades, Aaliyah traveled to Chicago for sessions at Kelly's recording studio there.
Aaliyah was just 15 years-old when Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, her debut album, was released in 1994. The first single, "Back And Forth", was a Number One R&B song in Billboard magazine, also reaching the Top Five of the pop chart. Aaliyah's follow-up, "At Your Best, You Are Love", a remake of a song first made famous by The Isley Brothers, peaked at Number Two on the R&B chart, while reaching the pop Top 10.
A small controversy arose in late-1994, when it was rumored that Aaliyah and Kelly, then 25, had wed in August of that year. The reports were denied.
Following the release of her 1996 album, One In A Million, "Journey To The Past", Aaliyah's contribution to the Anastacia soundtrack earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. "Are You That Somebody?" appeared in the 1998 hit film Dr. Dolittle, starring comedian Eddie Murphy, and garnered a Grammy nomination.
In 1999, Aaliyah took a break from recording to begin work on a second career as a movie actress. She made her film debut to good reviews in Romeo Must Die opposite martial arts star Jet Li. Her hit song, "Try Again", was nominated for a Grammy in the Best R&B Song category.
Aaliyah's work as an actress in Romeo Must Die led to offers of other roles. Earlier this year, she traveled to Australia for the filming of Queen Of The Damned, in which she plays a 4,000 century old vampire. Aaliyah had also been cast in the sequel to The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves. She was scheduled to return to Australia next year for that project. Both films were to be released in 2002.
After completing work on Queen Of The Damned, Aaliyah returned to the recording studio to complete work on her first album in five years. The self-titled CD, produced by long-time collaborator Timbaland, was released last month.
Aaliyah had recently completed a video in California for a future single, "More Than A Woman. She reportedly was in the Bahamas making a video for "Rock The Boat," a second future single.
R&B singing star and actress Aaliyah, dead at 22.