Aaliyah Haughton, the eternal princess of R&B, would have been 36 today–still so young. 14 years after the fatal plane crash in the Bahamas that claimed her life and eight others, her legacy lives on in the sweetest of rhythms and harmonies with which she blessed the world’s heart and ears.
I have my mother to thank for exposing me to Aaliyah. She was always my mom’s favorite, therefore mine too. I was only six when her sophomore album “One in a Million” was released, but her second single from that album, of the same name, remains one of my earliest memories of music, and one of the closest to my heart.
It was effortless: her beauty, her flow, her angelic chords, her moves and her charm. She was one of those voices that captivated you not by its strength or octaves, but by its subtle power. You don’t hear Aaliyah’s music through your ears, you hear it through the heart. You can’t listen to any one of her songs without subconsciously closing your eyes and getting lost in her creation. It’s that very essence that to me defined her artistry and set her apart from any other singer.
Like any tragedy, I will forever remember where I was when the news of her sudden passing aired. Ironically enough, I was with my mother in her old, white Mazda 626 in the parking lot of the West Manchester Mall in my hometown. She was flipping through the stations when she got excited at the sound of Aaliyah on this one particular station. We listened. After the song, the radio DJ reiterated the news of that day: the passing of Aaliyah Haughton. I don’t remember if we pulled over or just stopped where we were, I just remember the paralyzing effect of the announcer’s words.
I often find myself imagining what her future would have been. At the time of her death, she was on top of the music world with her third album, “Aaliyah.” She had reinvented herself. From her teenage years, she had grown into womanhood and her sound, with the assistance of dear friend Timabaland, was cutting edge–the future of soul and R&B.
But it’s futile to contemplate the “What-ifs” in life. Instead, we should treasure what we have. In celebration of her birthday, I want to countdown my five favorite songs:
5. Enough Said Ft. Drake (although I have the non-Drake version. He kills her vibe, in my opinion)
4. If Your Girl Only Knew
3. Rock the Boat
2. One in a Million
1. I Care 4 U
Love you baby girl. XOXO