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Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn, New York. She was born to Michael and Diane Haughton and had a big brother named Rashad. Aaliyah is Arabic for "highest, most exalted one". She recieved her middle name from her grandmother. At the age of five she moved to Detroit, Michigan. She got her first major exposure when she appeared on "Star Search". Aaliyah credits her uncle Barry Hankerson (CEO and owner of Blackground Enterprises) for her success. When she was 11 years old, she performed with Gladys Knight who was Hankerson's ex-wife. Barry was also the manager of R. Kelly and with the guidance of Kelly; her first album was formed, "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number".

During Aaliyah's senior year of high school she recorded her hit "One in a Million" which featured the songwriting talents of Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliot and Tim 'Timbaland' Mosley. That album set off Aaliyah's career and sealed her success. She also did many acting rolls including the sequels of The Matrix (1999), Romeo Must Die (2000), and Queen of the Damned (2002). In 1999 she was chosen as one of Teen People Magazine's "21 Hottest Stars Under 21". She was also ranked #36 on VH1's Sexiest Artists.

As a teenager she attended Detroit's Performing Arts High School where she majored in dance. Aaliyah was an excellent student and graduated from her high school with a 4.0 GPA. Her best friend was Kidada Jones. Aaliyah had 3 tattoos: her initial and a star on her hand, a music symbol on her ankle, and a dove on her back. She got the dove as a tribute to her grandmother. She was considered for the role of Alex in Charlie's Angels but casting directors thought she was too young. She was also originally casted in the title role in Honey but died before production began.

In 2001 Aaliyah went to the Bahamas to take a vacation and to film her music video to "Rock the Boat". On August 25, 2001, after filming the video, Aaliyah and her crew took off from Marsh Harbor airport at 6:50pm in a small Cessna 404 to go to Florida. A few minutes after take-off, the plane crashed about 200 feet from the runway killing Aaliyah and many others instantly. Aaliyah was only 22 years old. At the time of her death she and her boyfriend Damon Dash were planning to wed. At her funeral, 22 white doves were released from the steps of the church to represent each year of her life. Aaliyah's success story shows her triumph of being able to still be herself in an industry that was very much the opposite. Her music and her success will live on forever.

Aaliyah says, "When I'm long gone, I want to be remembered not just as an actress or singer, but as a full-on entertainer."

Aaliyah Haughton is well-worthy of recognition because her story showed you can still be yourself in an industry that promotes otherwise. She was always classy and never fell into the trap of becoming something that she wasn't. If anything, I think Aaliyah has taught me to always follow my dreams and to be my own person. Her legacy will continue through her music, movies, her family, and her fans. She is an angel who has finally received her wings.

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R.I.P. Aaliyah Dana Haughton
(January 16, 1979 - August 25, 2001)

Works Cited:
n.d. 24 Feb. 2008 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004691/bio>.

n.d. 24 Feb. 2008 <http://www.straightblack.com/music/Aaliyah/Biography.php>.