Talented. Beautiful. Modest. These three words described R&B singer-turned-actress Aaliyah perfectly. Born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Detroit, Aaliyah got her first major exposure appearing on the syndicated television series Star Search (1983) where she awed the audience with her amazing voice and talent. Withdrawing from the celebrity scene for a few years, Aaliyah lived the life of a normal teenage girl, attending Detroit's Performing Arts High School where she majored in dance. It was around this same time that Aaliyah met singer/composer R. Kelly. Kelly assisted Aaliyah with the production of her debut album "Age Ain't Nothing But A number" which scored several hits, specifically "Back and Forth." With the release of Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, rumors circulated of a relationship between Aaliyah and R. Kelly. Shortly after, there was speculation about a secret marriage with the release of "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number" and the adult content that Kelly had written for Aaliyah. Vibe magazine revealed a marriage certificate that listed the couple married on August 31, 1994, in Sheraton Gateway Suites in Rosemont, Illinois. Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time, was listed as 18 on the certificate; the illegal marriage was annulled in February 1995 by her parents. Aaliyah went on to record "One In A Million" which featured the songwriting talents of major R&B producers/writers Missy Elliott and Tim Mosley. That album was a major success and sealed Aaliyah's fame forever. After seeing her at an awards show and in the video for her hit song "Are You that Somebody?" (from the Eddie Murphy film Doctor Dolittle (1998)), film producer Joel Silver (producer of The Matrix (1999) and other major actor films) asked Aaliyah to audition for a role in an upcoming romance/action film called Romeo Must Die (2000). With her determination and sex appeal, Aaliyah won Silver over and was cast in her first major film role. Romeo Must Die (2000) was a hit at the box office. This film led to her being cast as one of the stars of the film based on Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned (2002) and in the two sequels to the major box office hit, The Matrix (1999).
During the busy schedule of her film career, Aaliyah took time to record her third album, the self-titled "Aaliyah". July 2001 was a busy time for Aaliyah. After the sucess of her song "Try Again" for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award and won several MTV Video Awards, Aaliyah finally released her "Aaliyah" album. Debuting at number two on the Billboard charts, "Aaliyah" was a sales success despite many lack-lustre reviews it received. In August 2001, Aaliyah took time off from her busy album promotional tour to fly to the Bahamas to film a video for the song "Rock the Boat". The video, filmed on Abaco Island, was directed by Hype Williams, a major music video director known for his style and wit. On August 25, 2001, after filming the video, Aaliyah and about 9-11 of her entourage took off from Marsh Harbour airport at 6:50pm EDT in a small Cessna 404 en route to Opa-Locka, Florida. A few minutes after take-off, the plane crashed about 200 feet from the runaway killing Aaliyah and many others instantly. Four passnegers were pulled alive from the wreckage, and one later died at a hospital in Nassau. Aaliyah was only 22 years old. Aaliyah's short-lived, but brillant career was a true success story for a young African-American woman who went against all odds to be herself in an industry where originality is scarce. Truly missed by her family, friends, and fans, her music and film contributions will live forever.