Aaliyah Remembered on Tenth Anniversary of Her Death

Entertainment Aug. 25, 2011 AT 11:40AM
Aaliyah Remembered on Tenth Anniversary of Her Death Credit: RJ Capak/WireImage

She was that somebody.

On August 25, 2001, R&B singer, songwriter and budding actress Aaliyah died in a plane crash off of the Bahamas.

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Ten years later, the music world still mourns the loss of the young woman (full name: Aaliyah Dana Haughton), who was just 22 years old at the time of her shocking death, and was poised to become a major superstar, paving the way for singers like Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara and others.

The Brooklyn-born prodigy (whose first name means "supreme" in Arabaic) released her first album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, at age 14; the album was produced by R&B master R. Kelly. The duo were rumored to have married when Aaliyah was just 15 and he was 27; Aaliyah denied the talk.

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For her second album, 1996's One in a Million, she collaborated with then-unknown songwriter-producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who became stars in their own right shortly after that double-platinum album's release.

The sexy, soulful, quirky singer behind such hits as "Are You that Somebody?" "Try Again," "One in a Million" and other songs also had another talent up her sleeve: acting. She took up acting lessongs and landed a starring role in 2000's Romeo Must Die and as a vampire queen in Queen of the Damned. (Before her death, she was set to join the cast of the two Matrix sequels as well.)

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"She had an old soul," Jomo Hankerson, her cousin and president of her record label, told Rolling Stone after her death. "She seemed like she was living everything in rewind, like she'd already done all of this. She had this personality that was contagious. It was never just a job when you were working with her. You always had fun. Good kid fun."

Nicknamed "Li-Li" and "Baby Girl," the star loved to sleep, play word games, make prank phone calls and shop at Fred Segal in L.A.

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"She would just do silly stuff," her close pal Missy Elliott told Rolling Stone. "One time, she put these big fake teeth in her mouth, the kind you get at a joke shop, and she came into my room and started doing the scenes from Romeo Must Die. Her personality was very playful, but she was also equally caring and compassionate."

"God definitely must've needed an extra angel," Sean Combs added. "A real strong angel."

Aaliyah's final days were spent shooting a video in the Caribbean for "Rock the Boat," a single from her third, self-titled album.

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Controversy swirled around the cause of that crash that led to her death; Bahamian investigators speculated that her plane was overloaded with equipment.

Her private funeral was held Aug. 31 at St. Ignatius Loyala Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan -- with Combs, Elliot, Busta Rhymes, Mike Tyson, Jay-Z and Lil' Kim all attending. A public memorial was held was Cipriani 42nd Street, drawing more than 3000 mourners.

 "She was charmed from the womb," her cousin Hankerson said to Rolling Stone. "It just always worked out for her. This wasn't supposed to happen."

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