Remembering A Fallen Angel: The Life of Aaliyah

Essence Aug, 25, 2011

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In August of 2001, we lost a true musical genius when Aaliyah died in a plane crash after filming a music video for "Rock the Boat" in the Bahamas. Her tragic passing came just as she was releasing her finest album Aaliyah, which had come out only a month prior to hear death.

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Clad in a black scully, hoodie and shades on the cover of her debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” Aaliyah burst onto the scene in 1994, never having a problem being herself.

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There was a certain bad-girl mystic that drew legions of fans to Aaliyah. Her star status was taken to new heights after the release of her sophomore album, “One in a Million,” in 1996.

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Aaliyah was known as much for her infamous swooped bangs over the eye as she was of her tomboy swagger.

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Aaliyah’s tomboy chic appeal was emulated by many young R&B starlets. Here, the Detriot-raised songbird performs at Hot 97’s Summer Jam in New York in 1997.

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Aaliyah does what she does best during a live performance for KMEL 106 Summer Jam at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, on August 29, 1998.

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Aaliyah shows off her tomboy style during an album signing.

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With the release of her self-titled third album, Aaliyah matured, along with her style. The starlet’s casually sexy dress evolved and became more streamlined as she wore close-fitting clothes and left the baggy jeans behind.

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Aaliyah’s feathery vocals charmed many and earned her a loyal fan base. And there can be no mention of Aaliyah without noting her superior dance skills.

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Aaliyah was romantically involved with music exec Damon Dash for some time before her tragic death. Dash once called her the love of his life.

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Aaliyah was beloved not only by fans but also by some of the music industry’s biggest stars, including Nas and Missy Elliott (seen here in 1999).

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Aaliyah joins Busta Rhymes, Pink, Stevie Wonder, Mya and Tyrese for an MTV tribute to Janet Jackson.

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Aaliyah even got into the modeling game, appearing in several ads for Tommy Hilfiger with beautiful ones Bijou Phillips, second from right, and Kidada Jones. Here, the three hang tight at a party for Hilfiger with Jay-Z in L.A. in May 2000.

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Aaliyah poses with Destiny’s Child. Who knows where Aaliyah’s career would’ve been today? At just 22, she was poised to take over the industry.

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Aaliyah’s tragic passing came just as she was releasing her finest album “Aaliyah,” which had come out only a month prior to her death.

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Aaliyah made her acting debut as Trish O’Day opposite leading man Jet Li in “Romeo Must Die” in 2000. The soundtrack spawned chart-topping hits like “Try Again.”

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Here, Aaliyah plays “Queen of the Damned.”

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Aaliyah and her brother Rashad Haughton, who completed his sister’s voice overs for the film “Queen of the Damned,” are seen in this photo on August 3, 2000.

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The lithe beauty has a leg up on the competition at 2000 MTV Video Music Awards.

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Aaliyah cozies up to Diddy as they present at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 2, 2001.

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Aaliyah’s funeral was held in New York City on August 31st, 2011.

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Ginuwine, who was an integral part of Aaliyah’s musical collective with Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Magoo, is consoled by friends as he attends Aaliyah’s funeral.

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Missy Elliot, Ginuwine and Timbaland often referred to Aaliyah as “baby girl.” Here they remember her at the 2001 MTV Awards.

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Fans remember Aaliyah at a shrine dedicated to her in Los Angeles.

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