Some people may call me crazy, well actually a lot of people call me crazy. I like to think of myself as eccentric or unique. But every now and again, I can get a little crazy. But it’s the good crazy. Crazy or not, it has been nine years to the day that R&B singer Aaliyah Dana Haughton was tragically killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas and for me, it still hurts. You may ask whether or not I personally knew Aaliyah to miss her so much and the answer is No. But if you knew the type of artist and person she was, you know that there are thousands of fans who still miss her, especially on this day. Aaliyah was much more than just a recording artist or a movie actress, she represented something much bigger.
Born January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn NY, Aaliyah was known as Baby Girl to those in her inner circle. She found R&B success as a teenager with her debut album Age Aint Nothing but a Number which was released in the summer of 1994. I remember first seeing Aaliyah in the video for “Back and Forth” and thinking what a cool tune. The song and video that made a huge impression on me is “If Your Girl Only Knew.” For her second album, One in a Million, Aaliyah teamed with Timbaland. The two would go on to create a sound that would spawn many hits throughout the 90’s. When the double doors opened up in the “If Your Girl Only Knew” video, and Aaliyah walked through dressed like a hardcore biker chick, singing an in your face song, but with her soft sweet melodic voice, the contrast just blew me away. It was like when she came through those doors, she was being reintroduced onto the music scene and cementing herself in music history. From then on, I was a fan. To this day, there is no artist that compares to Aaliyah. She was talented, humble, gracious and the embodiment of a true star. Other R&B and pop singers can sing and dance and some may even have moves that are similar to hers, but nobody does it like Aaliyah. When she started at her Performing Arts school in Detroit, she was a vocal major and when she graduated she had changed over to dance. That showed how much she liked a challenge and that she didn’t always take the easy route. As far as talent, she had it all. She could sing, dance and she was starting to become a very accomplished actress in her own right after starring in Romeo Must Die and Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. If you watch any of her music videos, she made dancing look so easy. It as effortless for Baby Girl.
In a very cynical world, filled with stars who are divas, brats or have egos big enough to fill an auditorium, Aaliyah was always grace, humility and substance. She is the only person I know who can be described as an angel but still have an air of mystery.
I still wonder why she had to leave this earth the way that she did, but when it’s your time, what will be will be. One thing is for certain. Aaliyah will never be forgotten. In the short time that she was here, she made a musical, theatrical and spiritual footprint that can’t be erased by time or by a flock of new artists every year. Aaliyah represented something wholesome, authentic and sweet. In these days of prepackaged, gimmicky artists, it is rare to find that. Aaliyah was just Aaliyah, no filler, no fluff.
We will never know how big she would have become or how her brand might have changed throughout the years. And perhaps that’s a good thing because we remember her at her best forever young. And as she sang in her Isley Brother’s remake “At Your Best” you are loved. Aaliyah, Baby girl, you are loved and yes, ever after nine years we still miss you.