This week marks the thirteenth anniversary of Aaliyah Haughton’s death. The R&B singer was just 22 years old when the plane she was travelling on crashed. Although she was taken too soon and the music industry lost one of their brightest stars, her legacy lives on to this day.
R&B music was dominated by big voices like Whitney and Mariah when Aaliyah released her first album ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number’ in 1994. The then 15 year old arrived on the scene with her laid back, sultry vocals to change the way we hear R&B music today. Aaliyah reached her highest heights when she teamed up with Timbaland and Missy Elliot to create her second album ‘One In A Million.’ The LP was to be one of her most successful and solidified her relationship with Tim and Missy who also worked on her third and final album ‘Aaliyah’ which produced some of her biggest hits such as ‘Try Again,’ ‘Rock The Boat’ and ‘We Need A Resolution.’
It wasn’t all about music as Aaliyah had branched out into the acting world starring in ‘Romeo Must Die’ and the posthumously released ‘Queen Of The Damned.’ She was destined for far bigger things and it’s a true testament to her talent that she has provided inspiration for many artists we’re listening to today. Singers like Cassie, Jhené Aiko, Tinashe, Sevyn Streeter and FKA Twigs all cite Aaliyah as an influence on their career. Even Chris Brown and Drake have sampled Aaliyah in their work.
In terms of sound, Aaliyah was ahead of the game. Her slow tempo, intimate and sometimes hazy tones weren’t heard of in the R&B genre back in the 90s in comparison to today when it’s a sound to aspire to. Tinashe recently spoke about Aaliyah’s vibe saying, “People were used to artists belting things out. She brought a new vocal styling that wasn’t represented in R&B. Not everything has to be so up-tempo.”
Even though she may not have realised it at the time, Aaliyah was innovating a genre and inspiring future generations of singers. Her legacy continues to live on even more than a decade after her passing and thanks to some truly loyal fans and the waves she made in the music industry Aaliyah will never be forgotten and will always remain the Angel of R&B.