The late singer, actress and model’s talent was recognized at an early age, when she appeared on Star Search at the age of 10. At 12 years old, she’d sign her first major label deal with Jive Records.
Nicknamed the “Princess of R&B” and “Baby Girl,” Aaliyah went multi-platinum with her albums Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number and One in a Million. She also appeared in the film Romeo Must Die, in addition to contributing “Try Again” to the movie’s soundtrack, which earned her a Grammy nomination. Her third and final studio album was self-titled and released in 2001.
Notable collaborators included Timbaland, Missy Elliott and R. Kelly. The relationship between a teenage Aaliyah and a grown Kells wasn’t only professional. He lied on legal documents so they could get married when she was just 15, listing her as 18 on the certificate. The illegal marriage was annulled a year later by her parents.
On August 25th, 2001, Aaliyah and some execs from her record label tragically died when a small plane they were taking back from a video shoot in the Bahamas crashed shortly after takeoff. The overloaded plane exploded just 200 feet from the end of the runway, killing everyone on board, including the singer, her bodyguard, the pilot, her hair stylist, family friend, make-up artist and label employees. The plane had one passenger too many and too much cargo — a total of 700 pounds over the limit. Additionally, the pilot was found to have fabricated training documents, exaggerating the numbers of hours he had flown, to obtain his pilot’s license.
At the time of her death, she was dating Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash, and reportedly had plans to marry.
Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Gladys Knight, Lil’ Kim and Sean Combs were among those in attendance at Aaliyah’s funeral services, where she was laid to rest in a silver-plated copper-deposit casket, which was carried in a glass horse-drawn hearse.