Remembering Aaliyah, 14 Years After Her Tragic Plane Crash
When news broke that R&B songstress Aaliyah had perished in a plane crash on August 25, 2001, her fans and music lovers throughout the world were shocked and devastated. Aaliyah was only 22-years-old and at the height of her career when her life was cut short after a plane crash in the Bahamas, which also claimed the lives of eight other passengers. Fourteen years after the tragedy, we are paying tribute to Aaliyah and her influential stamp on music, as she made big waves in the R&B industry up until her untimely and heartbreaking death that summer day.
Aaliyah first broke into the music scene at the tender age of 15 with her 1994 album Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, which she released on Jive Records with the help of her then-mentor R. Kelly. With her beautiful, smooth and soulful vocals, the album yielded hits like "Back & Forth" and a successful cover of the Isley Brothers' "At Your Best (Your Are Love)." However, her true breakthrough as a superstar wouldn't come for another couple of years.
In 1996, Aaliyah released her second studio album under Atlantic Records with help from producers Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and Jermaine Dupri. That LP, One in a Million, not only cemented Aaliyah's place as a powerful musical force, but also helped further the careers of her production team. "One in a Million" was a chart success, certified platinum not once but twice, and birthing hugely popular singles like "If Your Girl Only Knew," "One in a Million" and "The One I Gave My Heart To."
With her stunning beauty and immense talent, Aaliyah's popularity just grew and grew as the years went by. In 1998, her track "Are You That Somebody?" for the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack dominated the airwaves during the summer. She starred in the film Romeo Must Die in 2000, releasing the infectious Grammy-nominated sing-along "Try Again" for the movie's soundtrack.
After Romeo Must Die, Aaliyah continued to showcase her hard work and love for both acting and singing, starring in the motion picture Queen of the Damned and releasing her third and final album Aaliyah. The eponymous record saw the release of five singles, including "We Need a Resolution" and "Rock the Boat," three of which were released posthumously.
While leaving the Bahamas after filming her "Rock the Boat" video, the small plane Aaliyah was aboard crashed shortly after takeoff due to exceeding the weight capacity. She was buried on August 31, 2001, with more than 800 people attending the service.
Aaliyah's inspiration clearly lives on, as countless R&B singers have expressed their love and respect for her legacy. Ciara told Billboard, "It never felt like she was trying to reach across or do anything more than just keep that cool, soulful, heavy urban core about it. It wasn't like she was trying to be anything more than who she was. I really respect that and I appreciate that." Monica also commented, saying, "Sometimes people are totally different than the image they represent, but what I love about her is that everything that you saw was really her. When the lights and the cameras were off, that same pleasant, mild mannered, sweet personality, that's just how she was."