Aaliyah Haughton


Aaliyah Haughton, also known as Aaliyah, is a well-known R&B singer born in Brooklyn, New York. Her music career started after signing a contract with Jive Records in 1994. She was also an actor for a while in her life.  Aaliyah can be titled as one of the most talented and influential R&B singers due to her style of deliverance, vocals, and her collaborations.

Early Life

Aaliyah was born on January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan and she competed on the television program Star Search at 11 years old. Later in the same year, she performed with the R&B legend, Gladys Knight. 

Start of Her Career

At age 15, in 1994, Aaliyah launched into the R&B charts herself with her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. It was produced by the successful singer R. Kelly and the album quickly sold a million copies and eventually earned platinum status according to mainly the success of two hit singles, “Back and Forth” and “At Your Best (You Are Love).” 

Aaliyah and R. Kelly

Later on in 1994, reports spread stating that Aaliyah married Kelly, who was 27 at the time. She denied the marriage and then it was reportedly annulled. 

Film Career

In 2000, Aaliyah made her acting debut in the surprise action hit Romeo Must Die, starring martial arts star Jet Li. She was an executive producer of the movie’s soundtrack and performed the hit single “Try Again”. That song became Aaliyah’s second Grammy nomination, including two MTV Music Video Awards for Best Female Video and Best Video From a Film. 

Aaliyah and R&B

As we all know, Aaliyah is one of the most talented and influential R&B singers. There are multiple ways that she changed the course of R&B. It is known that she was regularly absent during her music career, but that only deepened her appeal. Aaliyah only recorded three albums during her life; she released music sparingly, but she always spoke with impact.

After breaking up with R. Kelly, she found new collaborators in production team with Timbaland and Missy Elliot, then creating One in a Million. That was feasibly more dynamic and groundbreaking than her debut. She knew how to wait for subtle changes in music and when to get there first. 

Additionally, many R&B singers tried to copy Aaliyah’s falsetto and sharp range, such as Ciara, Amerie, and Teyana Taylor. She is definitely remembered as one of the most influential singers of the modern R&B era. She was an icon in the R&B era. 

Aaliyah's Death and Legacy

Aaliyah and her crew traveled to the Bahamas to film the “Rock the Boat” music video on the return flight to Opa-locka, Florida, in a chartered plane, she and the other passengers were killed after the plane crashed. She was only 22 years old when she died. Now, twenty-plus years after her death, Aaliyah remains a mystique in music, celebrated for her accomplishments, yet also mourned for the future she was unable to experience. Aaliyah has and still influences current R&B artists, such as Sza, Jhene Aiko, and many others. Her talent as a singer will never be forgotten. 

Popular Aaliyah Music Videos


Aaliyah is an amazing R&B singer that influenced many well-known R&B artists. She influenced the characteristics of an R&B voice all the way to the overall rhythm of the music genre. 



“Aaliyah” biography.com, 2 April 2014, 


“Aaliyah’s Music will Finally Be Streaming. What took so long?” nytimes.com, 5 August 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/05/arts/music/aaliyah-catalog-streaming.html 


Harris, Aisha. “What Made Aaliyah So Special Is More Complicated Than It Seems”, 25 August 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/08/25/1030628420/what-made-aaliyah-so-special-is-more-complicated-than-it-seems 


Moghe, Sonia. “Minister who officiated R. Kelly and Aaliyah’s wedding testifies against Kelly” CNN, 1 September 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/01/us/r-kelly-trial-testimony-minister-aaliyah/index.html 


Ruggieri, Melissa. “Remembering Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B’s legacy 20 years after her tragic death” usatoday.com, 25 August 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2021/08/25/aaliyah-legacy-20-years-after-tragic-death-fans-and-celebrities-remember-princess-of-r-b/8244181002/ 


Reeves, Mosi. “7 Ways Aaliyah Changed R&B Forever” Rolling Stone, 25 August 2016, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/7-ways-aaliyah-changed-rb-forever-248663/ 


Owoseje, Toyin. “20 years after her death, Aaliyah is duetting with The Weekend” 17 December 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/17/entertainment/aaliyah-weeknd-poison-intl-scli/index.html 

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