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A star in the R&B world before she was even out of her teens, Aaliyah’s promising career was tragically cut short by her death in a plane crash at age 22.

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn.

 Her uncle, Barry Hankerson, was a manager and entertainment lawyer who was married to Gladys Knight for a time, and her mother, also a singer, enrolled Aaliyah in voice lessons before she’d even started school. Still very young, she moved with her family to Detroit, where she sang in several school plays. At age nine, she successfully auditioned for the TV show Star Search, where she performed “My Funny Valentine” (and lost). Two years later, thanks to her uncle Hankerson’s connections, she spent five nights in Las Vegas performing as part of Gladys Knight’s revue.

In addition to his niece, Hankerson was also managing R. Kelly, and introduced the two in 1992. Kelly soon took Aaliyah under his wing and began writing and producing songs for her. Aaliyah’s debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, was released in the summer of 1994 and quickly became a platinum-selling hit on the strength of two smash singles, “Back & Forth” and “At Your Best (You Are Love)”

 Both songs hit the pop Top Ten and went gold, and “Back & Forth” went all the way to number one on the R&B charts, while “At Your Best” fell one spot short.

In 1996, Aaliyah released her follow-up album, One in a Million. She worked with several different producers, most notably Timbaland with Missy  Elliott. Several of these — “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “One in a Million,” “4 Page Letter” — became hits, with “If Your Girl Only Knew” going all the way to the top of the R&B charts.

 In the meantime, Aaliyah graduated from high school (in 1997) and contributed several songs to film soundtracks. “Journey to the Past,” from Anastasia, was nominated for an Oscar, and in early 1998 she had a major hit with “Are You That Somebody?” from Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle

 Aaliyah took her time recording a follow-up, and put the process completely on hold to start an acting career. She co-starred with martial-arts master Jet Li and rapper DMX in 2000’s urban Shakespeare adaptation Romeo Must Die, and her accompanying soundtrack single, “Try Again,” became her first number one hit on the pop charts that summer. Aaliyah subsequently completed filming on the Anne Rice vampire flick Queen of the Damned, playing the title role as a vampire queen, and was cast in a prominent role in the two sequels to The Matrix. Plus, she finally finished her long-awaited third album, with Timbaland again handling the most prominent tracks. Released in the summer of 2001, “We Need a Resolution,” was a Top 20 R&B hit.

Only a month after the album’s release, Aaliyah traveled to the Bahamas to film a video for its second single, “Rock the Boat.” On August 25, she and several members of the crew boarded a small twin-engine Cessna plane returning to the mainland. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, exploding on impact; Aaliyah and seven other passengers were killed instantly, and the ninth later died at a Nassau hospital.

The R&B community reacted with an outpouring of shock and sorrow, and Aaliyah became the singer’s only chart-topping album, eventually going double platinum. “Rock the Boat” and “More Than a Woman” were both posthumous Top Ten hits and Queen of the Damned was a commercial success upon its release in early 2002.

At the end of 2002, the posthumous album I Care 4 U entered the charts at number three; it mixed some of the singer’s biggest hits with a selection of unreleased material. The title track was a Top 20 pop hit, and “Miss You” topped the R&B charts early the next year.

Full article on http://www.billboard.com/artist/275352/aaliyah/biography

~ Steve Huey, Rovi