From an early age, Aaliyah found satisfaction in her music. When she didn’t win the youth vocal competition on “Star Search” as a preteen, she didn’t let it deter her from continuing to sing. In fact, at age 11, she landed a five-night stint performing with Gladys Knight in Las Vegas. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she was raised in Detroit while also going home to New York frequently and eventually became a client with Abrams Artists. She graduated from the Detroit Performing Arts High School in 1997 with a 4.0 GPA. She credits her educational success to the support from her family, her mother (who was a teacher that home schooled her), Dr. Sylvia Twyman, Dr. Denise Cotton, the Education Guidance Center, Dr. David Snead (Superintendent of Detroit Schools who approved Aaliyah’s program with Dr. Cotton and her parents) and Jennifer Vandenbrooks who also assisted in her education. College was definitely in the plans.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to embark along this path,” says Aaliyah, “they were with me all the way. They were the ones who shuttled me back and forth to my vocal lessons, dance lessons, private guitar, play rehearsals at Gesu Elementary School and they even saw to it that the sets for the plays were transported to Mary Grove College in Michigan. What could be more important?”
In 1994, at the age of 14, Aaliyah released her first album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.” It was an instant success. The first single, “Back And Forth,” was a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a No.1 R&B song. The follow up single, a remake of the Isley Brother’s “At Your Best (You Are Love)” reached Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was No. 2 at R&B radio. “I still remember how nervous I was right before “Back And Forth” came out,” she says. “I kept wondering if people would accept it. When it went gold, I had my answer, and it was just such an incredibly satisfying feeling.” The acceptance of her music inspired other female teen singers to follow in her footsteps. Her taste in fashion still influences her fans and other artists. Teen Vogue once wrote Aaliyah set the prototype for the young female artist of the 90’s.
Her trademark baggy pants and over-sized shirts simply reflect the sense of style she developed as a child. She always loved wearing her father and brother’s clothes. She said she was never going to wear a dress or carry a purse. As we know, that eventually changed. Just remember The MTV Awards, when she won her award and took center stage in her Roberto Cavalli dress with her beloved brother. They both were wondrous. Born on January 16, 1980.