It will never not be sad remembering the great Aaliyah whose life was taken far too soon in the tragic plane crash in 2001. Today the R&B singer with such an angelic voice would’ve turned 34. VH1 re-aired Aaliyah’s 2001 Behind The Music with new interviews including her dear friend Missy Elliott. During the hour special you’re reminded why her life and music touched people in the way it did. Aaliyah was the voice of a new generation of women while not alienating men.
Aaliyah made timeless music. Under the guidance of R. Kelly Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number‘s “Back and Forth” debuted and you instantly knew there was something special about her. There was no one in the music industry quite like her in the mid-90s– pretty girl with the tomboy swag all while remaining innocently sexy. Most importantly her music was relatable and fresh. It didn’t take long for the world to fall in love with the R&B star. By her second album One In A Million she hooked up with Missy and Timbaland creating her staple sound of R&B infused with hip-hop flavor and soul. For her final album Aaliyah the singer experimented with new writers and producers for more ballads resulting in a more mature sound.
Whether it’s “Back and Forth,” “One In A Million,” “4 Page Letter” or “Rock the Boat” played on the radio or the DJ spinning one of her many hits at a party, the words are known; and people will dance. Between the masterful choreography in videos like “Are You That Somebody?” and her burgeoning film career, she truly was one in a million. She ushered in the movement for younger women like Beyonce or Rihanna who’d emerge later: Bold, independent and wanted to sing about more than sappy love songs.
Aaliyah’s influence is undeniable. Nearly two decades since her first song landed on airwaves her music still moves you. Her indelible musical talent is missed greatly. Happy Birthday to an angel.