Aaliyah, which means “highest, most exalted one” in Swahili, is already making quite a name for herself in the music industry. At the young age of twenty-one, Aaliyah has already recorded/released two solo albums, has been featured in a few movie soundtracks and has starred in one major motion picture. Aaliyah moved to Detroit with her family when she was five years old, although she was born in Brooklyn, NY, on January 16,1979 as Aaliyah Haughton. Aaliyah’s biggest fan was her mother, and before Aaliyah was even registered in elementary school, her mother had hired her a voice teacher. Her early school years were spent performing in school plays and auditioning for several TV shows/commercials. At age nine she was featured on TV’s Star Search and at age eleven her blossoming creative skills secured her a five-night project singing with Gladys Knight’s troupe in Las Vegas.
Considering her early achievements and those she knew in the entertainment industry (her uncle, Barry Hankerson, is a well-known music industry professional and the CEO of the artist management company Blackground Enterprises), Aaliyah was able to meet R&B artist R. Kelly in 1992. Immediately after their initial contact, R Kelly and his entourage set out to record all the songs for Aaliyah’s debut CD, which would be released in June 1994, appropriately titled Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Rumors flew that R. Kelly and the fifteen-year-old Aaliyah had secretly tied the knot—a falsehood that both parties finally denounced.
After a dizzying international tour, which included stops in Japan, Europe, South Africa and the United States—Aaliyah eventually returned home to proceed with her studies at the Detroit High School for Performing Arts, where she majored in dance. When it came time to begin work on her second album, R. Kelly was not involved and in his place Aaliyah obtained the help of Jermaine Dupri, Timbaland and Slick Rick—to help collaborate a respected follow-up to her debut. Released on August 27, 1996, One In A Million did extremely well, with two of its singles hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B singles chart. Such note-worthy publications as Elle, Seventeen and Cosmopolitan bustled for interviews with the talented new artist, who was also being hailed as the epitome of fashion for young urban women.
By the time 1998 rolled around, Aaliyah had already begun her work on several movie soundtracks including Dr. Dolittle and Anastasia—she also became one of the youngest musicians in history to sing an Oscar-nominated song when she performed at the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony. In early 2000, Aaliyah made her movie review in the major motion picture, Romeo Must Die. Th film debuted at No. 2, although it was met with mixed reviews.
As Aaliyah continues to press forward with her acting career, she has recently recorded three new songs for the Romeo Must Die soundtrack. Also, work on her third album has already started, with a release date tentatively scheduled for the end of 2000. In a recent interview Aaliyah told EURweb that since she has been so busy with many projects, she has not been able to devote as much time to her newest album as she would like. As she works and reworks the songs to be featured, Aaliyah is still not sure what the overall feel of the album will be—guess we will have to wait and see!