Remembering Aaliyah on 20th anniversary of singer’s death

This week marks 20 years since R&B Singer Aaliyah and eight others were killed in a plane crash.

She was 22 years old. 

On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah boarded a twin-engine Cessna in the Bahamas, where she was shooting a music video for her third and final self-titled album, "Aaliyah." The Florida-bound plane was found to be badly overloaded. It went down seconds after take-off.

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An investigation showed the aircraft was overloaded by 700 pounds, and an autopsy found cocaine and alcohol in the pilot’s body, according to a coroner’s testimony.

In 2003, Aaliyah’s parents, Michael and Diana Haughton, filed papers in Los Angeles court saying they had reached an undisclosed settlement with the plane’s operator, owners and flight broker.

Born January 1979, Aaliyah Haughton, with her silky smooth voice, was signed a record deal with her uncle in Detroit when she was just 12. Two years later, she teamed with R. Kelly to make her first record "Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number." She became involved with R. Kelly and the two were secretly married when Aaliyah was just 15. Her parents discovered this and quickly annulled the marriage.

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But the scandal tarnished Aaliyah’s reputation more than R. Kelly, who is currently on trial for sex trafficking charges stemming more than two decades. She was portrayed as a teen seductress rather than one of R. Kelly’s first and many victims.

The scandal led to Aaliyah becoming extremely private in ensuing years, but she kept recording hit records. She teamed with then-unknowns Timbaland and Missy Elliot for her second record "One in a Million," which has sold 8 million copies worldwide.

Aaliyah’s "Try Again" beat out Britney Spears’ "Oops!... I Did It Again" video and Christina Aguilera’s "What a Girl Wants" to win best female video at the MTV video awards in 2000, another sign she was poised for superstardom.

Billboard Magazine said Aaliyah "revolutionized R&B with her honey-coated voice and sultry mix of pop, soul and hip-hop." 

The singer also made waves in the fashion industry.

Her signature style of a crop top or bandeau top paired with baggy jeans, with long hair partially covering her left eye, is emblematic of her "sweet but street" style and still emulated today. 

She had roles in the movies "Romeo Must Die" and "Queen of the Damned", and was set to act in the "Matrix" sequels before she died.

Aaliyah also went on to win three American Music Awards and two MTV VMAs, along with five Grammy nominations. 

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Twenty years after her death, the singer’s music will continue to live on.

For years, Aaliyah’s music has been unavailable on streaming platforms, with the exception of her first album, "Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number."

But following a fan campaign on social media with the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic, Blackground Records said it plans to release the albums to streaming services on Aug. 20, in time for the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah’s death. The move is not without controversy. Aaliyah’s family estate does not support the release.

But it will give a new generation of fans an easier way to hear more of Aaliyah’s body of work. And the newly-released book, "Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah", should serve as a useful companion to those discovering Aaliyah’s music for the first time via these platforms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.