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Heart 'N' Soul Of Aaliyah
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Aaliyah, Six Months Later: #1 At Box Office With LP In Works                                          (2/25/02)  
Aaliyah
Photo: Blackground
 
Six months to the day of her death on August 25, 2001, Aaliyah is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of her fans.

"Queen of the Damned," in which the late singer/actress has the title role, was king of the box office this weekend, grossing a little over $15 million to take first place. Meanwhile, the hits "More Than a Woman" and "Rock the Boat" both released as singles after she was killed in a plane crash following the "Rock the Boat" video shoot (see
"Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash") are showing no signs of letting up on radio or on video.

This summer, Aaliyah will continue to live on through her music with a still-untitled album, according to her label, Blackground. A spokesperson for the project says no exact date has been set and that it was too early to tell what material it would include.

An untitled "Aaliyah tribute album" is on the release schedule for Blackground's distributor, Universal Records, with a date of August 20, Universal said on Friday. The Blackground spokesperson clarified on Monday (February 25) that they have not yet determined what sort of material would be included on the record if it would include Aaliyah's greatest hits and/or unreleased material, or if it would feature guests paying homage to the singer.

This summer, Blackground is re-releasing the last LP we heard Aaliyah on, Timbaland and Magoo's Indecent Proposal. She's featured on a track called "I Am Music" (see
"Timbaland, Magoo Have 'Another Classic' Ready With Jay-Z, Ludacris")

Timbaland, who produced many of Aaliyah's most popular songs, said in October that he would be heavily involved in putting out some of the late singer's unreleased tracks. "I've got a couple of songs that aren't even on [Indecent Proposal]," he said. "I've got a lot of unreleased stuff on Aaliyah. So some of the stuff we'll put out, but it's not gonna be the sad Baby Girl. You can grieve but so much. The grief can kill you."

Aaliyah's self-titled LP, released in July, has sold over 2.06 million copies to date, according to SoundScan.

New Aaliyah Album Set For 2002 (1.4.02)

In other related news, Aaliyahs film The Queen Of The Damned has had its release date pushed back in order to avoid a clash with Britney Spears debut movie, Crossroads. Britneys movie opens in the US on 15 February. Warner Bros had planned to release Aaliyahs movie on the same weekend, but the film will now open on 22 February.

The president of Aaliyahs record company has also suggested that a new Aaliyah album will be released some time in 2002. The LP will include unreleased material as well songs featured on Aaliyahs earlier albums.

Aaliyah was killed on 25 August last year when a Cessna 402 light aircraft crashed and burst into flames shortly after taking off from the island of Abaco bound for Miami. The singer had just finished shooting the video to Rock The Boat from her new album and had recently completed the video for More Than A Woman from the same LP.

Aaliyah's Boyfriend: We Planned to Marry (01.03.01)

Aaliyah had more than movies and music on her mind before her tragic death.

The singer/actress was also dreaming of a wedding, her distraught boyfriend, Roc-a-Fella Records CEO Damon Dash, told MTV News.

"We were definitely going to get married," he said. "As soon as we had time, we were getting married -- like after (she finished filming)'The Matrix.' She was the one -- she was definitely the one for me."

Dash, his voice filled with emotion throughout the interview, remembered only good times with the 22-year-old beauty. "She was the only girl that got to hang out with my homeboys on the level of a homeboy," he recalled about their one-year relationship. "It was like being with your homeboy and your girl at the same time."

The couples' dreams were cut short when Aaliyah was killed along with eight others in a Bahamas plane crash on Saturday. She had just finished filming the video for her song "Rock the Boat."

On Tuesday, the Brooklyn-born singer's body was flown to New York City, where she will be buried on Friday. The service will take place at the same funeral home where the service for another doomed young music star, the Notorious B.I.G., was held in 1997, the Daily News reported.

Aaliyah's Brother Steps In To Finish Her Lines In Vampire Flick (12.26.01)

After months of speculation regarding the fate of the film "The Queen of the Damned," Aaliyah's family has told Time magazine that in February the late singer will definitely grace the silver screen as Akasha, the 6,000-year-old vampire, thanks to her brother Rashad, who will overdub her final bits of dialogue.

Aaliyah had completed all of her scenes for the film when she died in a plane crash in the Bahamas in August while shooting the video for "Rock the Boat," which was released in October (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash").

While all of her acting was complete, some of her lines needed to be redone because the Egyptian accent of her character was occasionally difficult to understand. So Rashad, who has a similarly mellifluous voice, re-recorded a small portion of his sister's dialogue, which will be blended with Aaliyah's original lines.

"The Queen of the Damned," directed by Michael Rymer ("In Too Deep"), is based on the third novel in Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" series and follows the 1994 film "Interview With the Vampire," which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. "The Queen of the Damned" stars Stuart Townsend ("Wonderland") as the vampire Lestat, who returns as a snarling, fist-raising rock star. Korn frontman Jonathan Davis co-wrote and recorded five songs for the film, but his record contract forbids him from using his voice on the soundtrack (see "Korn's Davis Uses Stunt Double For Vampire Movie Soundtrack"). So, he's trained ex-Yngwie Malmsteen belter Jeff Scott Soto to mimic his voice for the record. The soundtrack may also include previously released music by Aaliyah.

Alicia Keys Up For Seven NAACP Image Awards (12.11.01)

Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson and Jill Scott lead the pack of music artists receiving nominations for this year's NAACP Image Awards.

Sultry R&B chanteuse Keys is at the top of the list with seven. She picked up nods for Outstanding Album for Songs in A Minor, Outstanding New Artist, Outstanding Music Video (directed by Chris Robinson) and Outstanding Songwriter for "Fallin'," Outstanding Female Artist and Outstanding Songwriter (with Erika Rose) for "A Woman's Worth" and Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special for her showing on the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.

Jackson received five nominations: Outstanding Album and Outstanding Male Artist for Invincible; Outstanding Song and Outstanding Music Video for "You Rock My World" (directed by Paul Hunter) and Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special for "Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special." That show received its own nomination in the category of Outstanding Variety Series/Special.

Jill Scott was nominated four times: Outstanding Album and Outstanding Female Artist for Experience: Jill Scott, Outstanding Song (with Keith Pelzer) for "He Loves Me" and Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special for the 2001 "Soul Train" Lady of Soul Awards.

India.Arie and Aaliyah received three nominations each. Arie was recognized in the categories of Outstanding Album for Acoustic Soul and Outstanding New Artist and Outstanding Female Artist for "Video." Aaliyah's self-titled third album was nominated for Outstanding Album and Outstanding Female Artist, and "Rock the Boat" (directed by Hype Williams) is up for Outstanding Music Video.

In non-music categories, Will Smith was nominated for Outstanding Literary Work - Children's for "Just the Two of Us," and he'll face off against Tyrese for the title of Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for "Ali" and "Baby Boy," respectively. Both movies were nominated for Outstanding Motion Picture. Ice-T and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds will compete in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category for their work in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Soul Food," respectively.

There are 41 categories in the NAACP Image Awards, which cover motion pictures, television, music and literature. The winners are determined by a panel of over 300 entertainment business professionals and NAACP leaders.

The 33rd annual event will be held February 23 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and broadcast March 1 on Fox.

The complete list of 2002 NAACP Image Awards nominees in the fields of music and TV variety specials, according to the NAACP Web site:

Outstanding Artist:
Alicia Keys - "Fallin' "
Bilal - 1st Born Second
City High - "Caramel"
India.Arie - "Video"
Nelly Furtado - "Turn Off the Light"


Outstanding Album:
Aaliyah - Aaliyah
Acoustic Soul - India.Arie
Experience: Jill Scott - Jill Scott
Invincible - Michael Jackson
Songs in A Minor - Alicia Keys


Outstanding Song:
"A Woman's Worth" - Alicia Keys & Erika Rose
"Fallin' " - Alicia Keys
"He Loves Me" - Jill Scott & Keith Pelzer
"Love" - Taalib Johnson (Musiq Soulchild), Andre Harris & Carvin Haggins
"You Rock My World" - Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels & Nora Payne


Outstanding Male Artist:
Babyface - Face 2 Face
Brian McKnight - Superhero
Luther Vandross - "Take You Out"
Maxwell - "Lifetime"
Michael Jackson - Invincible


Outstanding Female Artist:
Aaliyah - Aaliyah
Alicia Keys - "A Woman's Worth"
India.Arie - "Video"
Janet Jackson - All For You
Jill Scott - Experience: Jill Scott


Outstanding Duo or Group:
Destiny's Child - Survivor
Kirk Franklin & Jill Scott - "Kingdom Come"
Outkast - "So Fresh, So Clean"
The Isley Brothers - Eternal
The O'Jays - For the Love ...


Outstanding Hip-Hop/Rap Artist:
DMX - "Who We Be"
Ja Rule - "Livin' It Up"
Outkast - "So Fresh, So Clean"
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs - P. Diddy & the Bad Boy Family - The Saga Continues ...
Tyrese - 2000 Watts


Outstanding Music Video:
"All For You" - Janet Jackson (directed by Dave Meyers)
"Contagious" - The Isley Brothers (directed by Bille Woodruff)
"Fallin' " - Alicia Keys (directed by Chris Robinson)
"Rock the Boat" - Aaliyah (directed by Hype Williams)
"You Rock My World" - Michael Jackson (directed by Paul Hunter)


Outstanding Variety Series/Special:
"Access Granted"
"Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special"
The 2001 Essence Awards
"Testimony"
"VH1 Divas Live 2001: Aretha Franklin"
Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special:
Alicia Keys - The 2001 MTV Video Music Awards
Donnie McClurkin & Yolanda Adams - The 2001 Essence Awards
Jill Scott - The 2001 "Soul Train" Lady of Soul Awards
Michael Jackson - "Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration"
Tyrese - "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno"


Outstanding Jazz Artist:
Boney James - Ride
Branford Marsalis - Creation
Dianne Reeves - The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan
Patti Austin - On the Way to Love
Quincy Jones - Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones


Outstanding Gospel Artist - Traditional:
Dottie Peoples - Dottie Peoples' Greatest Hits
LFT Church Choir With Hezekiah Walker - Love Is Live!
Richard Smallwood With Vision- Persuaded: Live in D.C.
Shirley Caesar - Hymns
Blind Boys of Alabama - Spirit of the Century


Outstanding Gospel Artist - Contemporary
Bishop T.D. Jakes & the Potters' House Mass Choir- The Storm Is Over
CeCe Winans - CeCe Winans
Kirk Franklin - "Kingdom Come" soundtrack
Tramaine Hawkins - Still Tramaine
Yolanda Adams - Believe

Korn's Davis Uses Stunt Double For Vampire Movie Soundtrack (11.29.01)

Jonathan Davis co-wrote and recorded five songs for the upcoming vampire flick "Queen of the Damned," but don't expect to hear the Korn singer's recognizable growl on the film's soundtrack.

Because Davis' record label contract prohibits his voice from appearing on the disc, which will be released around the same time as the next Korn album, he has recruited and trained veteran hard rock singer Jeff Scott Soto to record his parts, according to a Warner Bros. spokesperson for the movie. Soto recently signed a solo record deal after recording some of the music in "Rock Star."

Davis and composer Richard Gibbs scored all of "Queen of the Damned" (see "Korn's Davis To Score Vampire Pic") and wrote and performed the music sung for the character of Lestat. Those songs include "Redeemer," "System," "Slept So Long," "Not Meant for Me" and "Forsaken." The latter is first heard as an instrumental by a rock band, but after Lestat is selected as the group's singer, it becomes their video, the spokesperson said.

The "Queen of the Damned" soundtrack will be released just before the movie hits theaters in late February. The spokesperson said the track list, which may include music from one of the film's stars, the late Aaliyah, has not been finalized.

Gibbs, the former keyboardist for quirky rockers Oingo Boingo, has scored several films, including "28 Days," "Say Anything" and "10 Things I Hate About You."

"Queen of the Damned," based on the third novel in Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles," was directed by Michael Rymer ("In Too Deep"). It stars Stuart Townsend ("Wonderland") as Lestat, a vampire first introduced in "Interview With the Vampire," who becomes an '80s rock star. Townsend also wrote and recorded some songs that may be included in the movie, the spokesperson said.

New Aaliyah Video Coming Soon (11.29.01)

Fans of singer-actress Aaliyah will be happy to know that the video for "More Than A Woman" will be released in the coming weeks. The song is the third single from the late singer's self-titled, platinum-certified third album. The "More Than A Woman" video was shot in Florida by director Dave Meyers just days before Aaliyah's death.

While the video has already been leaked to a few outlets, Blackground Records representatives could not confirm when the video will see official release since Blackground is currently negotiating a new distribution deal. The label and its distributor, Virgin Records, recently severed ties.

Aaliyah and eight others were killed in the Bahamas on August 25 when the Cessna 402 aircraft that was transporting the group back to Florida crashed shortly after takeoff. Aaliyah was in the island nation shooting the video for "Rock The Boat," the second single from Aaliyah.

In related news, Aaliyah's 1994 debut set, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, was recently certified double-platinum for sales of 2 million copies.

Aaliyah Crash Investigation Focuses On Charter Company's Owner (11.21.2001)

In searching for information about the crash that killed Aaliyah and eight others in the Bahamas in August, federal investigators have seized the business records and computer hard drive of the owner of the small charter company that provided the fatal flight.

Though the FBI declined to comment, as is their policy with all pending investigations, a 26-page affidavit filed in support of a search warrant charges that Gilbert Chacon, owner of Blackhawk Aviation, has been withholding airport and engine logs and records for the Cessna twin-engine plane involved in the accident (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"). Chacon is also suspected of lying to federal investigators, concealing information, falsifying documents and obstructing and impeding due process.

Of particular interest to investigators is a clarification of Chacon's relationship with the Cessna 402B's pilot, Luis Morales III. Investigators also requested details regarding the origin of the flight, names of those who scheduled the flight and the plane's maintenance information.

Up to this point, Chacon had provided some information to investigators via his attorney, Michael Moulis, but had not produced the aircraft and engine logbooks as well as many requested documents, saying that they were not in his possession because he had leased the Cessna to Morales, which absolved him of responsibility for the aircraft.

Investigators now believe Chacon lied about the lease, the transfer of records and logs to Morales prior to the crash, and efforts to locate those records after the crash.

Morales' father, according to the affidavit, insists that the plane was never leased to his son and that Chacon has never inquired about any documents.

The pilot's belongings were searched during the process of retrieving his personal effects, and no aircraft logs were recovered. Morales' father also claims that his son had no means to lease a $250,000 aircraft and that he was paid cash on a per flight basis.

U.S. agents seized Chacon's business records from his Fort Lauderdale, Florida-area residence on Monday, but mostly found training forms and bank statements, according to news reports from Miami television station WSVN.

The affidavit contends that Chacon is concealing his responsibility for the plane, since Blackhawk Aviation did not have permission from the Bahamas to conduct commercial flights there, according to the Civil Aviation Department of the Bahamas. To fly without permission would be in violation of FAA policy.

Since the crash, Chacon who in 1993 pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud involving another charter service, Caribbean Express has given up his operating certificate.

Chacon and his lawyer were both out of town and unreachable for comment, according to their employees. Chacon has claimed in the past that he was not responsible for the employ of his pilot, since he had been fooled by Morales about the extent of his experience, which Chacon characterized as inflated.

Moulis even filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter filed September 10 that accused the late pilot of falsely logging hours: "It is alleged that Mr. Morales inappropriately logged hundreds of hours as pilot in command when it is questionable whether he was even a pilot of the flight," the letter read.

In addition, Morales had recently pleaded no contest to cocaine possession and was not registered to fly for the airline (see "Pilot Of Aaliyah's Plane Had Been Caught With Cocaine, Was Not Authorized To Fly").

Neither the FAA nor the National Transportation Safety Board could be reached for comment Wednesday (November 21).

Now 8 Hits Collection Dedicated To Aaliyah
(11.16.2001)

The eighth edition of the booming compilation series Now That's What I Call Music! will be dedicated to Aaliyah, with a portion of the album's profits going to the Aaliyah Memorial Fund.

Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 8, due November 20, will include Aaliyah's "Rock the Boat," the song the late R&B star filmed the video for shortly before she died in a plane crash in the Bahamas in August (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash").

Joining Aaliyah on the 20-track collection are Destiny's Child, Janet Jackson, U2 and others, according to Virgin Records. Neither Britney Spears nor Christina Aguilera are on the compilation, though fellow teen queens Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore do appear.

Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 7, which featured Spears, Nelly and others (see "Britney, Janet, 'NSYNC Hits Reappear On Now 7"), debuted on top of the Billboard 200 albums chart last summer and has since been certified double platinum (see "'NSYNC Bumped From Top Of Chart By Now 7").

Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 8 track list, according to Virgin:
Destiny's Child - "Bootylicious"
'NSYNC - "Pop"
Jennifer Lopez - "I'm Real"
Joe featuring Mystikal - "Stutter (Double Take Remix)"
Janet Jackson - "Someone to Call My Lover"
Christina Milian - "AM to PM"
Jessica Simpson - "A Little Bit"
Mandy Moore - "Crush"
Aaliyah - "Rock the Boat"
Usher - "U Got It Bad"
Backstreet Boys - "More Than That"
Gorillaz - "Clint Eastwood"
Wiseguys - "Start the Commotion"
Jive Jones - "Me, Myself & I"
Smash Mouth - "I'm a Believer"
Sum41 - "Fat Lip"
Blink-182 - "The Rock Show"
Fuel - "Bad Day"
3 Doors Down - "Be Like That"
U2 - "Walk On"


Also...
Destiny's Child new album for Christmas "8 Days Til' Christmas" has also been dedicated to the wonderful Aaliyah. Be sure to go pick it up!!

Aaliyah Fans Fight To Keep The Deceased Actress In 'Matrix 2' (11.13.01)

Thousands of fans of the late singer-actress Aaliyah have started an online petition at petitiononline.com to keep the scenes that the actress shot for Matrix 2 in the final cut of the movie. Aaliyah was scheduled to perform the bulk of her role when shooting continued in Australia in late September, but the singer was killed along with eight others when a plane that was transporting her and her video crew from the Bahamas to Miami crashed on August 25.

The petition reads as follows: "In the wake of the tragic death of R&B singer-actress Aaliyah, Warner Bros. is rumored to be cutting the scenes Aaliyah has already filmed for The Matrix 2 and recasting the role. We would like to urge WB to honor the memory of Aaliyah's life and keep her scenes in The Matrix 2. Along with your help, we hope to get Warner Bros. to keep Aaliyah's memory alive." More than 16,000 fans have signed the petition and the number continues to grow.

Initially, Warner Bros. planned to keep the scenes that the Aaliyah shot in the movie but subsequently they decided to cast someone else in the role so that the part could possibly be expanded for Matrix 3. Several actresses--including Brandy, James King, Eva Mendez, and Erykah Badu--are said to be in the running for the role.

In related news, Queen Of The Damned, a movie Aaliyah completed shooting before she died, will not feature the actress's voice. Prior to her death, Aaliyah hadn't recorded the dialogue for her role as a vampire queen, which required an Egyptian accent. Another actress will recite the actress's lines, but fans will still see the deceased star in the lead role.

American Music Awards nominees: (11-13-01)

Favorite Male Artist Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music:
Genuwine
R. Kelly
Luther Vandross

Favorite Female Artist Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music:
Aaliyah
Mary J. Blige
Alicia Keys

Favorite Band, Duo or Group Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music:
Destiny's Child
The Isley Brothers, featuring Ronald Isley, a.k.a. Mr. Biggs
Jagged Edge

Favorite Album Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music:
Aaliyah "Aaliyah"
Janet Jackson "All For You"
Alicia Keys "Songs in A Minor"

Favorite New Artist Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music:
Blu Cantrell
Alicia Keys
Musiq Soulchild

Favorite Male Artist Pop or Rock 'n Roll Music:
Lenny Kravitz
R. Kelly
Shaggy

Favorite Female Artist Pop or Rock 'n Roll Music:
Janet Jackson
Alicia Keys
Jennifer Lopez

Favorite Band, Duo or Group Pop or Rock 'n Roll Music:
Dave Matthews Band
*NSync
U2

Favorite Album Pop or Rock 'n Roll Music:
Dave Matthews Band "Everyday"
Destiny's Child "Survivor"
*NSync "Celebrity"

Favorite New Artist Pop or Rock 'n Roll Music:
Nelly Furtado
Alicia Keys
Lifehouse

Favorite Male Artist Country Music:
Toby Keith
Tim McGraw
Travis Tritt

Favorite Female Artist Country Music:
Sara Evans
Faith Hill
JoDee Messina

Favorite Band, Duo or Group Country Music:
Brooks & Dunn
Lonestar
SheDaisy

Favorite Album Country Music:
Brooks & Dunn "Steers & Stripes"
Lonestar "I'm Already There"
Tim McGraw "Set This Circus Down"

Favorite New Artist Country Music:
Jamie O'Neal
Blake Shelton
Trick Pony

Favorite Artist Rap / Hip-Hop Music:
Nelly
Ja Rule
Shaggy

Favorite Artist Alternative Music:
Limp Bizkit
Linkin Park
Staind

Favorite Artist Adult Contemporary Music:
Enya
LeAnn Rimes
Sade

Favorite Artist Latin Music:
Enrique Iglesias
Shakira
Jaci Velasquez

Favorite Artist Contemporary Inspirational Music:
Yolanda Adams
Steven Curtis Chapman
Donnie McClurkin

Favorite Soundtrack:
American Pie 2
Moulin Rouge
Save The Last Dance

Coca-Cola New Music Award:
Carbon Leaf
Live Honey
Yo, Flaco!

*-----------------------------------*

BEVERLY HILLS, California Alicia Keys leads the list of contenders for the 29th annual American Music Awards, with her five nominations besting 'NSYNC, Aaliyah and Destiny's Child, who are among 10 artists with two nods apiece.

Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Jewel announced the nominees Tuesday morning (November 13) at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Other artists with two nominations are Janet Jackson, R. Kelly, Shaggy, Dave Matthews Band, Tim McGraw, Lonestar and Brooks & Dunn.

Keys, who will present an award at the ceremony January 9 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, is nominated for Favorite Female Artist and Favorite New Artist in both the Pop/Rock and Soul/R&B categories, along with Favorite Soul/R&B Album for Songs in A Minor.

"Alicia is great. She deserves it," Jewel said after announcing Keys' nominations. "It's nice to see people who write their own stuff doing well. When I won a [Best New Artist] AMA it was really fun, because it's fan-nominated. That's a great thing. It makes you feel like you are connecting with people."

The American Music Awards, whose nominees and winners are determined by fan voting, tend to recognize more commercially successful artists than the Grammys. Last year's winners included Creed, Kid Rock and Toni Braxton.

Combs will host this year's ceremony, which will feature performances from Kid Rock, Cher, Shaggy and Brooks & Dunn.

Ja Rule and Ludacris have been announced as presenters, while Dick Clark, the producer of the awards, said Tuesday that Garth Brooks, Redman and Method Man will also be involved, along with more artists who will be announced at a later date.

For the first time this year, the American Music Awards will present the Coca-Cola New Music Award to an unsigned band, which will get to perform at the awards show. The entries in that category, which has been narrowed from 50, are Denver's Yo, Flaco!, New York's Live Honey and Richmond, Virginia's Carbon Leaf.

"It's not like playing the local Howard Johnson's. They will be seen by several million people," Clark said.

The award show will be broadcast live on ABC, except on the West Coast, where it will be tape-delayed.

Ron Isley Dedicates 'At Your Best' To Aaliyah (10.16.01)

Ron Isley dedicated the Isley Brother's classic "At Your Best" to Aaliyah Friday (October 12) when he played the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. The late R&B singer and actress had a hit with the song when she re-recorded it for her 1994 debut album Age Ain't Nothing But A Number.

Halfway through his 90-minute set, Isley began a monologue about Aaliyah,who died in a plane crash on August 25. "I met this young lady when she was 15," Isley said. "She said, 'Your group is my favorite group. I'm recording one of your songs. This is a favorite of mine.'"

Isley added that the two became friends, and she used the Isley's as a good luck charm, re-recording another Isley song ("Choosey Lover")on her sophomore album, One In A Million. After performing the song, Isley said, "Aaliyah, this is for you, forever."

In the latter portion of the show, Isley performed"Contagious," the R. Kelly penned and produced song inwhose video R. Kelly is cheating with Isley's woman. Before playing the song, Isley noted that he doesn't have problems with women in real life. "I don't know why I keep having problems with women," he said. "But it's only in the videos." Isley is married to singer-producer Angela Winbush.

Isley closed his set with "Shout," the Isley's first hit,released in 1959. The group's latest album, Eternal, entered The Billboard 200 album chart at Number Three in August.

Aaliyah's Final Video To Premiere On Tuesday
(10.09.2001)

The video for "Rock the Boat" the clip Aaliyah was working on in the Bahamas before embarking on a fatal plane crash will premiere Tuesday (October 9) at 8 p.m. ET on BET.

The debut will be part of "Access Granted: Aaliyah Rocks the Boat," a half-hour documentary on the making of the video, according to BET producer Kevin Taylor. Taylor, who was in the Bahamas filming the shoot, described the clip as gorgeous and sensual.

"It's very ethereal and heavenly," Taylor said of the Hype Williams-directed clip. "There are lots of shots of water and clouds, and the video ends with Aaliyah swimming up from the bottom of a pool, almost looking like she's going into the clouds. It's really beautiful."

Taylor said that even though putting together the show was tough, footage of Aaliyah joking with stylists Eric Foreman and Christopher Maldonado, who were also killed in the twin-engine plane crash (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"), made it bittersweet. "They were completely hilarious, like sitcom funny," Taylor said. "I've never been around a group of people who were funnier."

Director Williams, who's helmed clips for Busta Rhymes, Ginuwine and Notorious B.I.G., described the shoot as one of his most memorable. "Everyone put their heart and soul into the work, as we always do, with the intent that the world would enjoy it," he said shortly after the 22-year-old singer died on August 25. "I know there's a lot of pain involved, but that's all the more reason people would appreciate what we've done as a group" (see "Aaliyah's Final Video 'Very Special,' Director Says").

A spokesperson for Aaliyah's label, Blackground Records, said that it's unclear when or if the video for "More Than a Woman," which was shot before "Rock the Boat," would premiere.

MTVi's parent company, Viacom, also owns BET.

Aaliyah's Life And Last Days Chronicled In Two Upcoming Television Programs (10.8.01)

Pop star and actress Aaliyah, who was killed along with eight others in a Bahamian plane crash on August 25, will be the subject of BET's Access Granted: Aaliyah 'Rock The Boat,' which the network will air at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday night (October 9).

The show will feature footage from Aaliyah's last days, made while she was shooting her latest video, "Rock The Boat," in the Bahamas. The program will also feature footage of several of the others who were also in the accident, as well as a special tribute.

Aaliyah fans should also tune in for the premiere of Aaliyah: Behind The Music on VH1, scheduled for Sunday (October 14). The show will air at 11 a.m. ET, 9 p.m. ET, and 11 p.m. ET. Missy Elliott and Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah's uncle and owner of Blackground Records, were among the many friends and family members of the fallen star who were interviewed for the show.

Aaliyah's self-titled third album is currently Number 22 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and it has been certified platinum for sales of 1 million copies.

Aaliyah Biography Slated For December (10.04.2001)

A little more than three months after a plane crash took the life of 22-year-old singer Aaliyah, a paperback biography on her life and career will arrive in bookstores.

Aaliyah: More Than a Woman is scheduled for release in early December, according to the tome's author, Christopher John Farley. Farley, the pop music critic for Time magazine, said he amassed interviews conducted with the singer/actress and those close to her, including her high school principal, producers Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri, and friend Beyonc Knowles.

The biography is built around an interview Farley did with Aaliyah for a feature in Time that ran in July, around the time of the release of her most recent album, Aaliyah.

"On each album she grew, and hopefully she'll be a model for other young singers," Farley said. "The way she approached her craft was that she didn't only do what she thought was going to be hot, but she did the stuff that she thought was going to challenge her and her audience while being interesting and good to listen to."

And like the chances she took on the album, Farley said Aaliyah took the same risks in her life. "There are a lot of young singers out there who don't always challenge themselves the way Aaliyah did. She challenged herself in terms of the [acting] roles she took playing a 6,000-year-old vampire in 'The Queen of the Damned' is a daring role whether it turns out well or poorly."

A Cessna 402B carrying Aaliyah and eight other people crashed on August 25 after taking off from the Bahamas, where the singer was filming a video (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"). All those aboard the aircraft were killed.

Christopher John Farley is a co-author of Woodstock 94: The Book and author of My Favorite War, a 1996 novel about a reporter covering Desert Storm. He's currently working on his second novel, The Chocolate Gale, set in 18th century Jamaica.

Timbaland To Release Aaliyah / Beck Duet
(9-11-01)

Fans will hear Aaliyah's voice one more time on "I'm Music," a previously unreleased duet with genre-hopping singer/songwriter Beck that will grace Timbaland and Magoo's upcoming album.

Timbaland said he plans to release the track as a single from Indecent Proposal, his second album with Magoo, which is due in stores November 20 (see "Timbaland's Sick of Making Hit Songs").

"I'm gonna put it out as a tribute song it's a beautiful song," the trend-setting producer said on the red carpet Thursday before the MTV Video Music Awards.

Timbaland predicted that the song will "shock the world," adding, "It's probably the biggest song I ever did."

"It's a revolutionary song," chimed in the producer's latest protg, rapper Bubba Sparxxx.

A video will accompany the single, Timbaland said, but he declined to provide details or a release date. Beck and Timbaland previously collaborated on a cover of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" for the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack.

A spokesperson for Timbaland and Aaliyah's label, Blackground Records, confirmed on Monday (September 10) that "I'm Music" will appear on Indecent Proposal, but said that they had no knowledge of plans to release the track as a single. A spokesperson for Beck at Interscope Records did not return a call for comment on the singer/songwriter's participation.

Aaliyah died along with eight others in a plane crash in the Bahamas last month (see "Aaliyah's Plane Overloaded, Unbalanced, U.S. Report Says").

Aaliyah's Plane Overloaded, Unbalanced, U.S. Report Says
(9-10-01)

The plane that carried Aaliyah and eight others to their deaths last month in the Bahamas was out of balance and was weighted down with passengers and luggage that exceeded the craft's limits, a preliminary report said.

"The total weight of the luggage, fuel on board at the time of the accident, plus the weight of the passengers showed that the total gross weight of the airplane was substantially exceeded,'' according to a report by the Bahamian Department of Civil Aviation issued Saturday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The report also said the plane's center of gravity was too far toward the tail and "significantly outside the flight envelope."

A spokesperson for the NTSB had no further comment Monday (September 10).

The new report supports an earlier statement by the Department of Civil Aviation's Randy Butler, who said the combined weight of luggage and passengers put the plane's total load over its maximum authorized take-off weight (see "Report Shows Aaliyah's Plane Was Overloaded").

Plane owner Gilbert Chacon has only communicated with investigators through his attorneys, and has not turned over aircraft or engine logbooks, the report said.

Butler said last month that Blackhawk Aviation, owned by Chacon, was not authorized to pick up passengers in the Bahamas. In addition, pilot Luis Morales III had recently pleaded no contest to cocaine possession and was not registered to fly for the airline (see "Pilot Of Aaliyah's Plane Had Been Caught With Cocaine, Was Not Authorized To Fly").

Janet, Missy, Others Honor Aaliyah During VMAs
(9/6/01)

The joyous, free-spirited atmosphere of the Video Music Awards was momentarily put on hold by a touching tribute to 22-year-old singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash August 25.

Janet Jackson, in a pink hat and modest black dress, opened the memoriam by recounting Aaliyah's sentiment when her grandmother passed away: "One day we will be together again." She then read a letter from K, 19, of Decatur, Georgia, which was sent to MTVNews.com (see "Fans Remember Aaliyah"). It said, in part, "I for one will not be sad or mourn her death, but celebrate her life and be thankful for her gift that's touched so many. We haven't lost anyone. We've only gained an angel." Jackson ended her speech by saying, "We will always love you."

Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Ginuwine, with heads bowed, were next to share their feelings on the tragic loss of their friend. "Aaliyah was deeply loved and will be so deeply missed. I think I speak for all of us standing here when I say she was definitely one in a million," Ginuwine said, referencing the title of the singer's second album, 1996's One in a Million.

Timbaland added, "Aaliyah was a temple of excitement, joy and peace. To me, she was my little sister, my musical inspiration ... your music will always live on through me."

Elliott was visibly shaken and nervous with her delivery. After saying that people should appreciate each other, she apologized for not being more prepared. "I didn't write anything, I just felt like I had to come from the heart. And I love you, Aaliyah, and you're forever missed."

Aaliyah's brother, Rashad Haughton, wrapped up the brief but bittersweet tribute by thanking his sister's friends and colleagues who offered their condolences in this dark time for his family. He ended his speech with a feeling of gratefulness rather than remorse: "I am truly happy to have been given a gift like you, Aaliyah," he said, staving off tears.

Though Aaliyah's homage was short, her absence from the 2001 Video Music Awards loomed over the Metropolitan Opera House all night, evidenced early on by City High and Eve's shout-out during their pre-show performance and the Aaliyah T-shirt Usher was wearing when he and Estella Warren presented Destiny's Child with the award for Best R&B Video.

For more Video Music Awards news, check out MTV News' VMA News Archive. For all things VMA, visit MTV.com's VMA Nation.

Aaliyah Bests Blige, Slipknot For #1 Spot
(9/5/01)

Music fans mourning the passing of Aaliyah and those curious about her legacy will push the late R&B star to the top of next week's Billboard 200 albums chart.

Despite strong debuts from Mary J. Blige and Slipknot, Aaliyah's eponymous album will vault to #1 on the albums chart next week, a month and a half after its initial release. The singer died August 25 in a plane crash that claimed the lives of eight others (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash").

Sales of Aaliyah jumped from 62,000 copies during the week of her death to 305,000 copies in the week that followed, bumping the album up from #19. Aaliyah debuted at #2 upon its release in July and dropped as low as #27 two weeks ago.

Renewed interest in the late singer will also push the "Romeo Must Die" soundtrack album (which features several Aaliyah tracks) back onto the chart at #164.

The sales surge also places Aaliyah just ahead of hip-hop diva Mary J. Blige, who will debut at #2 on next week's chart with No More Drama. Blige's fifth studio album sold more than 294,000 copies in its first week in stores.

Close behind are the masked men of Slipknot, who sold more than 254,000 copies of their latest effort, Iowa, to debut next week at #3. The debut is impressive for the hard-edged heartland metal outfit but falls short of industry speculation that placed the first-week tally at 350,000-500,000.

R&B singer/songwriter Brian McKnight, country star Toby Keith and up-and-coming rockers Puddle of Mudd will also boast top-10 debuts on next week's chart. McKnight's Superhero sold more than 150,000 copies to debut at #7, while Keith's Pull My Chain sold some 119,000 copies to land at #9. Puddle of Mudd turned heavy radio and video airplay for "Control" into sales of more than 116,000 copies for Come Clean, which will debut at #10.

With six new titles crashing the top 10, some familiar names will tumble down the chart, including 'NSYNC (down from #5 to #12), Linkin Park (from #7 to #11), Staind (from #9 to #13), the Isley Brothers (from #6 to #15), Jennifer Lopez (from #10 to #16) and Usher (from #8 to #20).

Meanwhile, the high times get a little higher for Afroman, who will see his single "Because I Got High" help his album The Good Times land at #14 on next week's chart (see "Afroman Living 'High' Life Thanks To Hit Single"). Sonic adventurer Bjrk will also crack the top 20 when her Vespertine debuts at #19.

Next week's chart will also see debuts from Krayzie Bone (at #27), Tech N9ne (#59), Brotha Lynch Hung (#79), American Head Charge (#118), Nicole C. Mullen (#123), Butthole Surfers (#130), Skillet (#141), Relient K (#158) and Stereolab (#178).

Detroit Memorial For Aaliyah Planned, Scholarship Fund Created (9.02.01)

A memorial is being planned and there is now a scholarship fund that honors the memory of Aaliyah in Detroit, the city where the New York-born singer-actress was raised and attended high school. The fund created by the Detroit-based organization Operation Get Down will annually provide financial assistance to four students attending the Detroit High School For The Fine And Performing Arts, from which Aaliyah graduated.

Operation Get Down was created 30 years ago by Aaliyah's uncle Barry Hankerson, who heads Blackground Records, the label that signed Aaliyah and got her recording deals with major labels. Aaliyah's parents also worked with Operation Get Down, and Aaliyah started performing at the organization's community events when she was just 5 years old. Operation Get Down co-founder and CEO Bernard Parker said Friday (August 31), "Aaliyah's death is a loss to Detroit and for many of us who watched her grow up; we'll always remember and love her."

Educators in Detroit are also praising Aaliyah, calling her a fine role model who never forgot the town she once called home. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) CEO Kenneth S. Burnley stated Friday, "Aaliyah was one of our brightest starts in the firmament of DPS students. In addition to graduating from our Detroit High School Of Fine And Performing Arts with a 4.0 grade average, Aaliyah possessed a beautiful spirit that touched the lives of many. She continued to visit and support the Detroit Public Schools. Aaliyah will forever be an inspiration to all young people who strive to accomplish their dreams through hard work and decency."

Donations to the Aaliyah Memorial Scholarship Fund can be sent to: First Independence National Bank, 44 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48226. Checks should be made out to Aaliyah Memorial Scholarship Fund. For more information regarding donations, please call (313) 461-6268.

Fans, Artists Pay Last Respects To Aaliyah (8-31-01)

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NEW YORK The inscription at the bottom of Aaliyah's picture at a memorial here on Friday may have best described her years of touching people's lives: "We Were Given a Queen, We Were Given an Angel."

Even in the afterlife, Aaliyah remains the epitome of class and grace. Her white casket was transported Friday morning (August 31) from Campbell Funeral Home to St. Ignatius Church where her funeral was held in a white carriage pulled by two white horses. Dozens of white and pink roses lay on the top of the carriage. Her boyfriend, Damon Dash, and one of her "Romeo Must Die" co-stars, Delroy Lindo, were among the loved ones who walked the streets behind the carriage en route to the private service.

Fans converged at the funeral home as early as 6:30 a.m. to pay their respects to the singer and actress, who was killed in a plane crash with eight others six days earlier in the Bahamas (see "Report Shows Aaliyah's Plane Was Overloaded"). They wrote messages in the home's condolence books and followed the procession. Police estimated 1,000 fans were there.

"[I came] because of Aaliyah's spirit," said Walter Green, who was in the crowd that walked four blocks from the funeral home to the funeral on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "I met her twice, she's the most wonderful person. She touched so many people worldwide."

"She touched my life the way no other did," said Karolyn Parchment, who was joined by her teenage daughter Natasha. "I listened to her songs. They were positive. She was a role model and I wanted [my daughter] to look up to her."

When the procession reached the church, where Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes, and Timbaland were among the mourners, they were greeted by more fans.

One glassy-eyed girl, who looked no older than 14, held up a giant piece of cardboard with lyrics to Aaliyah songs written on it. Another girl wore a pair of jeans with the star's name written multiple times on them. Further down the block, a group of kids were draped in T-shirts that read, "May God Give Her Soul Eternal Peace."

"I have mad love for Aaliyah," said Nichelle Broadway, whose T-shirt was embroidered with a photograph of Aaliyah she had taken at a record-store appearance in July. "She was so nice. I've been crying all week. I'm trying to hold it in now. I just can't believe it."

While some wept, others talked among themselves about Aaliyah's contributions, keeping their eyes focused on the goings-on at the church. Twenty-five-year-old Melvina Simone suggested that instead of wallowing in grief, fans should celebrate someone who lived a short but full life (see "Hard-Working Aaliyah Packed Hit Albums, Movies Into Short Life").

"This is how we gonna remember her, through her music," the Brooklyn, New York, resident said, turning up the volume on her boom box as "We Need a Resolution" blasted through the speakers. "I'm grieving for the family and praying for their strength, but [playing the music is] just in memory of her."

As Aaliyah's funeral left the church, 22 white doves were released one for each of her 22 years.

In Midtown, meanwhile, at the restaurant Cipriani's, fans poured in for an all-day public memorial service. They left flowers, teddy bears and cards. And they prayed, and reminisced by watching highlights of Aaliyah's career on two giant screens, singing along to songs such as "Are You That Somebody?," "One in a Million" and "Try Again".

Cipriani's was flooded with white ribbons, bouquets, and candles. A shrine to Aaliyah was the centerpiece: Between the video screens was a photograph of the woman her friend and collaborator Timbaland fondly called "Baby Girl." She looked elegant in an aqua gown. At the bottom of the picture, an inscription read:

Aaliyah Dana Haughton
January 16 1979-August 25, 2001
We Were Given a Queen
We Were Given an Angel

New York Disc Jockey Suspended Over Aaliyah Joke (8.31.01)

A New York City disc jockey has been suspended for mocking singer-actress Aaliyah's death on the air with a sound-effects tape that contained a woman's bloodcurdling screams followed by the sounds of a loud crash. WQHT-FM (Hot 97) DJ Star, whose real name is Troi Torain, has not been on the air since Tuesday (August 28), the day he made an on-air apology about the incident and a little more than 24 hours after he met with station managers, who were handling a deluge of complaints about the jokes.

When asked about the suspension, Star told New York's Daily News (August 31), "It's a business decision that the station had to make. I don't own that station, and I can't say that I should on there." Star also denied a rumor that he was pistol-whipped last week by some friends of Aaliyah. He said, "I haven't been attacked by anyone." However, Star added that he won't joke about her again anytime soon, saying, "I'm trying not to make fun of anything Aaliyah-related right now, because I'm aware people are trying to focus all their anger on me."

There's also an Internet campaign seeking to get Star off the air--the petition at petitiononline.com had been signed by more than 45,000 people as of Friday afternoon (August 31). In 1995, shock jock Howard Stern faced similar controversy when he played gunshot effects while discussing the death of Tejano singer Selena, who was shot to death that year. Stern ended up reading an apology on the air in Spanish. Star admits that the Aaliyah joke was "in poor taste," but he brought up the Stern incident, telling the Daily News, "I grew up listening to Howard Stern and other white humor [where] this sort of thing is not outrageous."

Star and his half-brother/on-air partner Buc Wild (Timothy Joseph) had been steadily gaining popularity since their morning show debuted a year ago. According to Arbitron spring ratings, their show placed fourth in the morning ratings. Buc Wild was on vacation when Star mocked Aaliyah's death. Star's other co-host Miss Jones said Friday morning that Buc Wild would be back on the air next week. Jones, who angrily stormed off the air when Star mocked Aaliyah's death and didn't return to Hot 97 airwaves until the morning after the incident, also said that Star's suspension would continue through next week. According to some reports, Star has been suspended indefinitely, but there has been no official announcement about his status with the station.

Star also made national news in July when he singled out actress-singer Jennifer Lopez for using the word "n--ga" in her latest song, "I'm Real" featuring Ja Rule. When Star made his apology on the air Tuesday (August 28) for joking about Aaliyah's death, he referenced the previous incident by saying how Lopez should still apologize for recording the song since he has now apologized for his own mistake in judgment.

Aaliyah's Bodyguards Might Have Doomed Flight (8.31.01)

While National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) experts have already admitted that the chartered Cessna in which singer-actress Aaliyah died was dangerously overloaded with gear, they're now considering whether of not her entourage had anything to do with the crash that claimed her life and the lives of eight other people. NTSB officials are looking closely at Aaliyah's 300-pound bodyguard Scott Gallin and another man, said to be the same size, who were crammed into the back of the small plane.

Owen Gassaway, the manager of the airport at which the Cessna 402B was based, tells the New York Post that where the two hefty men were positioned in the plane could have had disastrous consequences. "[An FAA investigator] told me that there was not one but two heavy guys back there," Gassaway tells the paper. "It must have caused havoc with the weight and balance. With that kind of load and those heavy guys in the rear, there's no way that pilot could have made it a safe flight."

Report Shows Aaliyah's Plane Was Overloaded (8-31-01)

The tiny Cessna aircraft that crashed and killed Aaliyah and eight others on Saturday was overloaded, a report from investigators in the Bahamas shows.

In a statement issued Thursday, Randy Butler of the Bahamian Civil Aviation Department said the Cessna 402B was loaded with fuel and cargo to a weight of 5,495 pounds. Since the craft's maximum authorized takeoff weight is 6,300 pounds, that left only 805 pounds available for the passengers and pilot just under 90 pounds per person.

"The plane was definitely overloaded," said John Frank of the Cessna Pilots Association, based in Santa Maria, California. Officials have yet to determine the exact weight of the people onboard the plane. They were able to weigh all baggage except one piece, which sank into a swamp, the statement said.

Overloading alone may not be enough to cause a crash, Frank said, adding that the behavior of the plane witnesses said it veered sharply to the left soon after takeoff suggests the load was not balanced evenly, which would have made the craft more difficult to handle. The report said the location of the bags on the aircraft before the crash has not been determined.

The report also said both of the plane's engines were in good working order and that the craft showed no evidence of "pre-crash damage." Butler said that information on the plane's maintenance records and pilot is still being gathered and that the craft's propellers will be examined in the U.S.

The pilot, Luis Morales III, pleaded no contest to charges of cocaine possession on August 13, according to Broward County court records (see "Pilot Of Aaliyah's Plane Had Been Caught With Cocaine, Was Not Authorized To Fly"). He had a clean flying record with no enforcement actions against him, Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said.

Blackhawk International Airways, the plane's operator, was cited by the FAA four times between 1997 and 2000 for a total of nine violations that included failure to follow drug-testing rules and failure to perform proper maintenance, according to FAA documents. Three of the citations resulted in "letters of correction" from the agency, while one a 1998 citation for failing to comply with a foreign country's regulations while flying in that country drew a $1,500 fine, according to documents.

Butler also said that neither Blackhawk nor the plane's owner, Skystream Inc., was authorized to operate charter flights in the Bahamas. Calls to Blackhawk have not been returned, and Skystream's number is unlisted.

Mariah Offers Condolences Following Aaliyah's Death (8.30.01)

While Mariah Carey continues to recover from her mental breakdown earlier this summer, the vocalist offered her condolences to the family of Aaliyah following the plane crash that claimed the younger singer's life on Saturday (August 25).

On her official website, Carey says, "As I said in my earlier message, life is really, really precious, and I just want to send out my deepest sympathy and love to Aaliyah and her family. And that's the most important thing--life, and appreciating it."

Both Carey and Aaliyah belong to a small group of female singers who have been able to make the transition from singer to actress. Carey is set to make her big screen debut in Glitter, which opens nationwide September 21. The Glitter soundtrack is due for release September 11.

Aaliyah's Videos To Be Played At Public Memorial (8-30-01)

A continuous loop of Aaliyah's videos will play during a public memorial service for the singer on Friday in New York, according to Virgin Records.

The service will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cipriani's 42nd Street, located at 110 E. 42nd St. Fans are invited to come and pay tribute to the singer, who died Saturday at the age of 22 (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"). Separate funeral service arrangements are being kept private at the request of the family, the label spokesperson said.

Fans who wish to send flowers and remembrances can mail them to:

Trump International Hotel
Attention: Diane Haughton
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023

Cards may be sent to:
Aaliyah Memorial
101 West 23rd Street, Suite 2342
New York, NY 10011

A memorial fund in the singer's name has been set up to raise money for breast cancer research and patient support (see "Aaliyah Memorial Fund Established).

Aaliyah's Final Video 'Very Special,' Director Says (8-30-01)

Video director Hype Williams said the time he spent working with Aaliyah during her last days was among the most memorable of his life, and he wants the world to see the footage they shot for "Rock the Boat."

"Those four days were very beautiful for everyone. We all worked together as a family," Williams said Monday, adding that the camaraderie on the set was a refreshing change from the usual shoot. "The last day, Saturday, was one of the best I've had in this business. Everyone felt part of something special, part of her song."

A brief clip of the footage itself looks beautiful, too. Aaliyah is on the beach, her back to the ocean. Wearing a red top, dangling hoop earrings and shimmering gold eye shadow, she sings "Rock the Boat"'s slyly suggestive lyrics.

Though this was the first time Williams who's filmed clips for Busta Rhymes, Notorious B.I.G. and Ginuwine, among others worked with Aaliyah on a video, they'd been friends for six years, he said. They began shooting the video Wednesday, flew down to the Bahamas Thursday and shot all day Thursday and Friday, he said.

Williams wants people to see what they created.

"It's a very special project. Everyone put their heart and soul into the work, as we always do, with the intent that the world would enjoy it," he said, speaking slowly and softly. "I know there's a lot of pain involved, but that's all the more reason people would appreciate what we've done as a group."

He added that he knows it's up to Aaliyah's close friends and family to decide what to do with the footage, but he hopes they turn it into a tribute to the singer. A spokesperson for Aaliyah's label, Blackground Records (run by her uncle, Barry Hankerson), said it was too soon to say what would become of the footage.

Aaliyah shot another video, for "More Than a Woman," earlier this month in Los Angeles with director David Meyers. The clip was to have been edited Monday, though the Blackground spokesperson couldn't say when it would be released.

Williams wants Aaliyah's fans to know that she was as wonderful a human being as she was a singer and actress (see "Jermaine Dupri, Hype Williams, Others Recall Aaliyah As 'Risk Taker,' 'Groundbreaker' ").

"She was a very happy person. She had nothing but love to give to others and she selflessly shared much of who she was," he said. "I don't know if anyone really understands that about her. She had these incredible, graceful qualities as a person. I don't know if her fans know that about her."

Williams said the best way to honor Aaliyah's selflessness is to bear in mind that it wasn't just the star who died in the Bahamas on Saturday (see "Aaliyah Plane Crash Investigation: No End In Sight"). The crash also took the lives of the singer's makeup artist Eric Foreman, her security guard Scotty Gallin, Blackground Records executive Gina Smith and Virgin Records director of video production Douglas Kratz.

"I would say that if her fans really wanted to honor her memory, they should also honor the memories of her friends who also died on this flight," he said. "Know that she loved them and would want everyone to know we're all the same, everybody. This is a loss for the world, not just the world of music or film. This tragedy goes beyond that."

Ludacris Expresses His Grief Over Aaliyah's Death; Pilot Wasn't Authorized For Flight (8.30.01)

Luis Morales III, the pilot of the fatal plane crash that killed singer and actress Aaliyah on Saturday (August 25), and eight others including himself, was reportedly not authorized for the fatal flight. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson Kathleen Bergen told ABC News that Blackhawk International Airways, which owned the Cessna 402 aircraft that crashed, had been cited four times in the past four years, one of the four was for a safety violation. Bergen also explained that the plane was authorized to fly under an air-taxi certificate that authorizes charter flights by one pilot, but the pilot listed wasn't Morales.

In addition, Morales entered a plea of no contest to crack cocaine possession and three other felonies only 12 days before the accident, according to the Miami Herald. Under FAA guidelines, he had 60 days to report the plea to aviation officials who could have revoked his license.

As the ongoing investigation promises to turn up more facts about the tragic incident, many of the recording industry biggest stars have publicly expressed their grief. Recently LAUNCH spoke with rapper Ludacris about Aaliyah's untimely demise. "Man, I'm one of those people where I heard it, and I'm still hearing it, and reality still has not set into me that she's gone, man," he said. "I just seen her like a week before she passed and I mean it was devastating to me. I just know she's such a good person. I mean who deserves something like that? Nobody deserves anything like that, but it really just makes you think about your life and like I was saying sometimes you just gotta live life like every day might be your last one 'cause you never know when you gonna go."

Aaliyah's latest self-titled album climbed eight spots from the Number 27 position to the Number 19 position on this week's Billboard 200 album charts. The set has already sold more than 509,000 since its release on July 17 and will likely continue its chart resurgence when next week's SoundScan numbers are released.

Aaliyah Memorial Fund Established
(8-29-01)

At her family's request, the Aaliyah Memorial Fund has been established, with donations going to breast cancer research and patient support.

Half of the funds will benefit the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program, a Virgin Records spokesperson said. The other half will go to the beneficiaries of the October 27 Breathe concert, which will raise money to help underprivileged women suffering from breast cancer. Aaliyah was scheduled to perform at the all-star event (see "Third Eye Blind Frontman Plans All-Star Breast Cancer Benefit").

Gladys Knight who was Aaliyah's aunt by her former marriage to the singer's uncle Barry Hankerson issued a statement Tuesday that read, in part: "She brought joy to my heart, and I felt blessed to encourage and support her professionally and personally as she strove for each new goal. Her star had just begun to shine so brightly. Though she was ours for only a short time, what a time it was. I love Aaliyah, and I will miss her for the rest of my life."

As a child, Aaliyah had performed with Knight in Las Vegas.

A public memorial service for Aaliyah will be held Friday, according to a Blackground Records spokesperson, who said details will be announced Thursday. Funeral services for the singer are being kept private.

Donations to the Aaliyah Memorial Fund can be sent to:
Aaliyah Memorial Fund
c/o Entertainment Industry Foundation
Attention: Merrily Newton
11132 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 401
Studio City, CA 91604

Cards will be sent to the family notifying them of all donations.

For credit card donations, call Newton at (818) 760-7722 or e-mail her at mnewton@eifoundation.org.

Pilot Of Aaliyah's Plane Had Been Caught With Cocaine, Was Not Authorized To Fly (8-29-01)

The pilot of the plane carrying Aaliyah and seven others from the Bahamas to Florida Saturday pleaded no contest to cocaine possession less than two weeks before the fatal crash and was not authorized to fly the craft.

Aaliyah, pilot Luis Morales III and the other seven passengers, who included the singer's security guard and makeup artist as well as representatives from her record label, were killed when the Cessna 402B crashed shortly after taking off from Marsh Harbour International Airport on Abaco Island (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash").

Morales, 30, was pulled over on August 7 when he drove his car through a stop sign in Pompano Beach, Florida, according to the Broward County Sheriff's records. The police officer searched the car, found pieces of crack cocaine and booked Morales on a felony cocaine-possession charge, as well as charges of driving with a suspended license and running a stop sign, records show. Morales told the arresting officer he was in the area to purchase powder cocaine for a friend, according to the arrest report.

On August 13, Morales entered a no-contest plea to the possession charge, as well as to a November charge of possessing stolen property, records show. He was given three years' probation, and the judge did not enter a decision on the condition that Morales successfully complete the probation, which included mandatory drug tests, according to the Broward County clerk of courts.

Morales' no-contest plea meant that his pilot's license should have been revoked under Federal Aviation Administration rules, according to FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen. While Morales' license hadn't been revoked yet, he was not authorized to fly the plane, which was operated by Blackhawk International Airways, according to Bergen.

Blackhawk is cleared to fly charter planes under a "single pilot certificate," meaning that only one pilot was authorized to fly the plane that crashed, Bergen said. Such certificates are common for small air taxi services like Blackhawk, which only has two planes, she said.

Though she did not identify the authorized pilot, Bergen said it was not Morales. Morales' license qualified him to fly Cessna 402B planes, but he was not on Blackhawk's certificate. Bergen said "it would not be appropriate" for the FAA to release the name of the authorized pilot.

While Blackhawk International is on record as the plane's operator, a company named Skystream is listed as the plane's owner, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Both companies list the same Pembroke Pines, Florida, address as their headquarters. Calls to Blackhawk were not returned, and no phone number was available for Skystream.

U.S. and Bahamian authorities are still investigating reports that engine failure and overloading contributed to the crash (see "Aaliyah Plane Crash Investigation: No End In Sight").

For a feature interview with Aaliyah, check out "Aaliyah: Been A Long Time". For reaction from fans and other readers, see "You Tell Us: Fans Remember Aaliyah".

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Gladys Knight Mourns Niece Aaliyah(8.29.01)

- Gladys Knight, aunt of R&B singer-actress Aaliyah, is one of the many family members, fans, and friends mourning the death of the talented 22-year-old. Aaliyah was killed along with eight others when the twin-engine Cessna plane she was traveling in crashed shortly after take off in the Bahamas on Saturday (August 25).

Of her niece, Knight said in a statement: "I remember the day Aaliyah was born...it was a great, beautiful day. I was married to her uncle, Barry Hankerson, and she immediately became a special part of my life, and I became Auntie Gladys to that wonderful little girl. I watched her grow up, and, with the rest of the world, saw her achieve success with her very special and unique talents. From an early age, I knew she had enormous talents, an intrinsic gift. When she first performed with me in Las Vegas, she was still quite young, but she already had it--that spark the world would later see and fall in love with. She had a refreshing outlook for one so young, with true respect for her art and for her elders. She brought joy to my heart, and I felt blessed to encourage and support her professionally and personally as she strove for each new goal. Her star had just begun to shine so brightly. Though she was ours for only a short time, what a time it was. I love Aaliyah, and I will miss her for the rest of my life."

The cause of Saturday's crash is currently under investigation, although several news reports say the pilot of the plane argued with passengers about the amount of luggage and equipment loaded on to the aircraft prior to takeoff.

Ja Rule On Aaliyah's Death (8.29.01)

As funeral preparations were being made for singer and actress Aaliyah, who died in a tragic plane crash in the Bahamas on Saturday (August 25), her friends continue to mourn her death. Recently LAUNCH spoke with Ja Rule who was with the singer just a few days before her death.

"I was in L.A. when it happened. Me and Aaliyah was good friends, you know, I was just with her at BET on 106 And Park, we was there last week together," he said. "And you know, you don't know how to react to sh-t like that cause it's like it wasn't her time to go. It's like a crazy incident, an airplane crash. You don't expect people to really die that way."

Ja Rule also shared that the incident was a wake-up call as to how real life is. "But once again life let's you know how real it is, you understand," he added. "And to her whole family and everybody, the deepest condolences. I don't know. It's just hard. The first thing I did when I heard the news was official is I called my mother and called my wife, you know just to say, 'I love y'all.' Anything can happen, this is proven that, you know, anything can happen. I just called them to let them know I love them cause anything can happen to me too."

Aaliyah's body was transported back to New York in a Lear Jet on Tuesday (August 28). Tentative funeral arrangements have been made for a private ceremony on Friday (August 31) at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on Madison Avenue in New York.

Rose Marie Butler of Butler Funeral Homes And Cremations in Nassau where the body was being held prior to transport shared that Aaliyah's mother Diane Haughton wasn't doing too well after identifying her daughter's body. Butler told the Daily News, "She wasn't doing very well. It's very sad." The singer was survived by her parents, Diane and Michael, and her brother Rashad.

Fans wishing to send cards, flowers, letters, etc can mail them to Blackground Records, 49 West 27th Street, Mezzanine Level, New York, New York, 10001. Those wishing to send their sentiments directly to the family can mail them to Diane Haughton, Trump International Hotel, 1 Central Park West, Room 700, New York, New York 10023.

Aaliyah's Absence Felt At Lady Of Soul Awards (8-29-01)

SANTA MONICA, California The seventh annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards provided a night of triumph for such artists as Jill Scott, 3LW and Destiny's Child, though a sadness loomed large over the ceremony as attendees mourned the loss of one of R&B's most promising young stars.

Throughout Tuesday night's show, performers and winners at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium made dedications to 22-year-old singer/actress Aaliyah, who died along with eight others in a plane crash over the weekend (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash").

Destiny's Child set the tone with their show-opening performance of "Emotion."

"This song is dedicated to a very special friend of ours that we lost, Aaliyah," Kelly Rowland said, introducing the Bee Gees-penned tune from the stage. Backstage, Beyonc Knowles appeared to be on the verge of breaking down in tears as she spoke about her late friend. "She was so sweet, always," she said, while gripping Kelly's hand. "She was one of the most beautiful people on the inside as well as out. It's tragic. Every night we pray for her family and everyone else's family."

Aaliyah's "Try Again" was up for Song of the Year, but lost to gospel artist Yolanda Adams. "I definitely have to say that Aaliyah was a very special part of my life," Adams said onstage. "We will miss her."

Patti LaBelle accepted her Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievement in Aaliyah's honor. "I know we are all thinking about our friend Aaliyah," LaBelle told the audience. "All of this happiness I'm getting tonight is sort of mixed because of something else that's real. Know that we can't take tonight for granted. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us."

LaBelle said that if Aaliyah's life hadn't been cut short, her bright career eventually would have earned her a lifetime achievement award. "With her talent, one day she would have accepted it I was just doing it because she's not here," LaBelle later said backstage.

Tyrese, who said he had to break the news of Aaliyah's death to Missy Elliott and R. Kelly, told reporters, "It's just sad because she's supposed to be here."

"I've never met her, but I was devastated when I heard," Blu Cantrell, who performed "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" during the show, said backstage. "I think it touched home with a lot of people everywhere, being that she was so young, so talented and so beautiful. She'll always be a beautiful girl. That will never end."

Jill Scott was the night's top winner with three honors, including the pre-announced Aretha Franklin Award for entertainer of the year. "Oh, thank you I love me, too," she quipped after DJ Jazzy Jeff presented her with the honor. She went on to profusely thank her mother, whom she credited for nurturing her curiosities about music at a young age.

Newcomers 3LW trailed behind Scott with two honors, picking up Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist and R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Group for their self-titled debut. "We were really nervous, we couldn't believe it, we were shaking," member Adrienne Bailon said backstage. "We're three girls of color, and all our lives we've aspired to go up there and actually win these awards, and it's just a wonderful accomplishment for us." Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott and Mary Mary also won awards.

Co-hosted by Eve, Luther Vandross, Leeza Gibbons and Shemar Moore, the Lady of Soul Awards will air in syndication starting Saturday. Scott, Alicia Keys and Dream were also among the performers.

Suge Knight, head of Tha Row/Death Row Records, apparently crashed the ceremony, coming through the back door of the auditorium and making his way all the way up to the front row. A show spokesperson said the record mogul, who was released from prison earlier this month after serving five years, was not expected.

Another seemingly unlikely guest though not a surprise one was former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. "Soul Train was one of the things I grew up on, so when I was invited to this [show] I jumped at it," he said.

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Damon Dash Says Every Day With Aaliyah Was Special (8-28-01)

Aaliyah Haughton's sudden death has touched fans the world over, but for those who knew and loved her, the tragedy has been almost unimaginably painful.

Aaliyah's boyfriend, Roc-a-Fella co-CEO Damon Dash, said Tuesday that losing her was heartbreaking.

"She was the best person I ever knew. ... I never met a person like her in my life," Dash said, his voice breaking with emotion. "Every day that we were together, we cherished. Every memory every day was a special event, whether it was going to a store or going to a movie or just sitting in a house. Wherever we were was like our own little party, in our own little world."

The couple shared the ability to thrive in varying social settings from Harlem to the Hamptons and beyond as well as a certain sense of humor, Dash remembered.

"She was the only girl that got to hang out with my homeboys on the level of a homeboy," he said. "It was like being able to be with your homeboy and your girl at the same time. ... We just generally had a lot of fun together."

Dash said that although they were not formally engaged, he and Aaliyah had planned on getting married.

"We were definitely gonna be married. As soon as she had time, we were getting married like after 'The Matrix,' " he said. "She was the one she was definitely the one for me. It wasn't an official proposal, we had just talked about it, you know?"

Despite her fame, Aaliyah often traveled without security and delighted in such ordinary activities as grabbing some fast food, Dash said. "She would just carry herself like such a normal individual. We just would pop into McDonald's or Wendy's or something, and people just wouldn't believe [it]," he said.

Aaliyah's cousin, Jomo Hankerson, said Aaliyah had been a star well before the world knew her name.

"We always knew Aaliyah could be something special," he said. "She came out of the womb special."

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Jermaine Dupri, Hype Williams, Others Recall Aaliyah As 'Risk Taker,' 'Groundbreaker' (8-28-01)

Although Aaliyah was only 22 years old when she was killed Saturday in a plane crash, the musicians and movie directors who remembered her this week almost unanimously noted her artistic maturity both as a singer unafraid to push R&B's envelope and as an actress whose commitment to her craft belied her age.

She released only three albums and appeared onscreen in one film she was set to follow her performance in 2000's "Romeo Must Die" with turns in "Queen of the Damned" and both sequels to "The Matrix" but nearly everyone who worked with Aaliyah pegged her as a creative force on the ascent (see "Aaliyah Mourned As Artist Who Had 'Limitless Potential'"). (Click for photos of Aaliyah through the years.)

"As a performer, she was one of the best I have ever seen do what she does," said Hype Williams, who directed the "Rock the Boat" video Aaliyah filmed in the Bahamas just before she died (see "Aaliyah Plane Crash Investigation: No End In Sight"). Williams said working on the clip with her was like working with family.

Aaliyah, who collaborated with such names as Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Rodney Jerkins and Naughty by Nature's Treach, was no producer's puppet. When the 17-year-old went into the studio with Treach in 1996 to work on One in a Million, her second album, she clearly wanted an artistic partner (see "Timbaland, P. Diddy, Other Artists React To Aaliyah's Death").

"She was like my li'l sis," Treach said Monday. "She'd come up and put her arm next to me like, 'Listen, we gonna make this song together. I don't want you to do just one verse and it's over. We gonna do the hook together."

Jerkins, who worked with Aaliyah on "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" and a remix of "One in a Million," marveled at the singer's artistic growth between her 1996 effort and this summer's eponymous release, which found her examining the complexities of adult romance (see "Hard-Working Aaliyah Packed Hit Albums, Movies Into Short Life").

"She grew like crazy from the time I worked with her to the stuff she's doing now," Jerkins said. "She was trying to find herself before. But by the third album, she was more of a performer, she became more of an artist."

Jermaine Dupri, who also worked on One in a Million, characterized Aaliyah as a risk taker and groundbreaker with a sound unlike anyone else's.

"I think it was fly that she took chances on her music," Dupri said of the progression from her R. Kelly-produced debut to the Timbaland beats on her second album. "Just the softness of how she sang over them hard-ass beats, it was something different."

Aaliyah's unique sound and willingness to experiment won her fans outside the R&B and hip-hop genres. Korn leader Jonathan Davis penned several songs for a vampire rock band in "Queen of the Damned" and planned to remix one of them with Aaliyah and Timbaland. He said Aaliyah was unafraid to bring a hint of darkness to mainstream radio's otherwise sunny vistas.

"She does really great, different stuff that's dark," he said Monday. "She skirts the goth edge. There's something cool and mysterious about her. I dug that. Just a dark little girl singing some cool-ass sh--."

Aaliyah wasn't simply a pop star who took up acting as a lark. She brought her unconventional approach to her movie roles, too. Michael Rymer, who directed Aaliyah in the title role of "Queen of the Damned," said she brought a unique approach to the part of 5,000-year-old Akasha, transforming the character into something complex and terrifying.

"Aaliyah and I devised a plan in which she would be the oldest, most powerful creature in the world, but she would play it like a child, like a kitten playing with a mouse," Rymer said. "It could have been a complete joke and come off in an embarrassing way. We both knew we were taking a huge risk and that if we pulled it off, it would be much more exciting than if we approached it more conventionally. She was a young queen."

For "Matrix" producer Joel Silver, who also cast Aaliyah in "Romeo Must Die," her skill and talent were crystallized in a scene where she talks to Jet Li's character about the death of her character's brother. She had to break down in tears but refused to resort to such tricks as blowing menthol up her nose or putting fake tears on her cheeks.

"Aaliyah didn't want to do that. She reached down somewhere and found this place where she could be this incredible actress," Silver said, beginning to cry himself. "She was a fantastic girl."

Filmmakers and musicians alike applauded Aaliyah's professionalism. Rymer said she was a dream to work with, never becoming impatient even while suffering through hours of makeup and waiting in the cold to film a scene. Treach said he never heard a negative word about her from anyone.

"You hear certain things through the industry about who you can work with and who you can't," he said. "You heard nothing but good stuff about Aaliyah."

Beyond her musical vision and professionalism, Aaliyah possessed an undeniable star quality, a magnetism and aura that separate the great from the merely good.

"Some stars have a unique way of capturing their audience without saying a word," Williams said. "That comes from charisma, it comes from charm. A lot of it comes from someplace else. I can't really define it, but I'm always able to recognize it. She had that 'magic,' for lack of a better word."

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Aaliyah Plane Crash Investigation: No End In Sight (8-28-01)

Authorities in the Bahamas are looking into reports that engine failure and overloading contributed to the crash of the plane carrying Aaliyah and eight others Saturday, but they haven't ruled anything out and say there's no end to the investigation in sight.

Investigators have moved the wreckage of the Cessna 402B to a hangar at Mount Harbour International Airport on Abaco Island, according to Royal Bahamas Police Force Officer Leeland Russell. He added that the investigation a joint effort between the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the islands' Civil Aviation Department, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board is in its early stages.

Russell said investigators are interviewing "every possible witness" in addition to looking at the aircraft, and that they have discovered "nothing significant" that might indicate the cause of the crash (see "Aaliyah Killed in Plane Crash").

Details on funeral arrangements or memorial services for Aaliyah have not been released (see "Timbaland, P. Diddy, Other Artists React To Aaliyah's Death" and "Hard-Working Aaliyah Packed Hit Albums, Movies Into Short Life").

For a feature interview with Aaliyah, check out "Aaliyah: Been A Long Time". For reaction from fans and other readers, see "You Tell Us: Fans Remember Aaliyah".

Disc Jockey Apolgizes For Joking About Aaliyah's Death (8.28.01)

A New York City disc jockey has apologized for mocking singer-actress Aaliyah's death on the air with a sound-effects tape that contained a woman's bloodcurdling screams followed by the sounds of a loud crash.

WQHT-FM (Hot 97) DJ Star, whose real name is Troi Torain, reportedly met yesterday (August 27) with station managers to discuss the complaints that poured in to the station following the jokes he made about Aaliyah that morning, and he apologized on the air today saying he was "sincerely sorry" for offending Aaliyah's family, loved ones, and fans. Star explained in New York's Daily News today: "It was in poor taste. Sometimes you do things without calculating the repercussions. We're talking about a life here. It was a very tragic thing."

Star made national news in July when he singled out actress-singer Jennifer Lopez for using the word "n--ga" in her latest song, "I'm Real" featuring Ja Rule. In 1995, shock jock Howard Stern got into similar trouble when he played gunshot effects while discussing the death of Tejano singer Selena, who was shot to death that year. Stern ended up reading an apology on the air in Spanish.

The Life Of Aaliyah: An MTV News Now Special Report (8-28-01)

Twenty-two-year-old Aaliyah Haughton was already an accomplished singer and actress when her life was cut tragically short by a plane crash in the Bahamas on Saturday night (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"). Her career was chronicled and celebrated by MTV, from the time she emerged as a precocious R&B star at the age of 15 right up until her appearance at the channel's 20th birthday bash less than four weeks ago.

This afternoon, MTV News remembers the always gracious person and eternally classy entertainer who was loved equally by both her peers and her fans (see "Timbaland, P. Diddy, Other Artists React To Aaliyah's Death," "You Tell Us: Fans Remember Aaliyah") in "The Life of Aaliyah: An MTV News Now Special Report."

Fellow artists, friends and professional acquaintances share intimate stories about the time they spent both playing and working with Aaliyah, shedding new light on a star who never demanded, but always commanded, the spotlight.

Memorable performances, career-spanning interviews, and candid moments some culled only weeks ago during the filming of an all-access "Diary" special will highlight this tribute to a young woman who will be dearly missed by everyone she knew and all those she touched.

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Details Of Aaliyah's Fatal Plane Crash Slowly Surfacing (8.27.01)

R&B singer and actress Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas with eight others on Saturday (August 25), was supposed to take another flight according to reports published in the Miami Herald, but the singer and her entourage changed plans and took a smaller plane back.

Craig Southerland, vice president of the Fort Lauderdale-based Sky Limo charter company, flew the young singer down to the Bahamas on Thursday. "We just took down two different groups of approximately 20 people total and it consisted of Aaliyah and her producer and various other members of her entourage. We were supposed to pick them up [on Sunday]."

Southerland explained that he was scheduled to make two flights on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to pick the group back up. Southerland continued, "We never heard from them. Whether they were unable to get in touch or what the details were, I don't know."

Aaliyah; Scott Gallin, 41, of Pompano Beach, Aaliyah's bodyguard; Keith Wallace, 49, of Los Angeles, Aaliyah's manager; Anthony Dodd, 34, of Los Angeles; Gina Smith, 29, of New Jersey, an executive of Blackground Records; Christopher Maldonado, 34 of New Jersey; Eric Foreman, 29, of Hollywood, Aaliyah's makeup artist; Douglas Kratz, 28, of Hollywood, director of video production at Virgin Records; and pilot Luis Morales, all boarded the twin-engine Cessna 402B Saturday evening. Several news outlets including the New York Post are reporting that the pilot argued with the entourage over the amount of luggage and equipment on the plane prior to take off.

At least one witness has come forward to say that they saw the right engine catch fire moments after takeoff. Bahamian investigators say that the plane took a nose dive shortly after takeoff and that the impact ejected most of the victims, some of which were still buckled in their seats. Of the nine on board, six perished immediately including Aaliyah, while three others died from their injuries shortly thereafter.

A team of U.S. investigators headed to the Bahamas on Monday morning to conduct a thorough investigation. The bodies of the victims were still on the island but plans were in the works to possibly transport the bodies to Florida to facilitate the identification process by the families.

Aaliyah's family issued a statement that reads as follows, "Aaliyah's family is devastated at the lost of their loving daughter and sister. Their hearts go out to those families who also lost their loved ones."

Aaliyah's label Blackground Records, which was started by her uncle Barry Hankerson, also released a statement, "Blackground is devastated with the loss of our Queen. The example she showed young people will be sorely missed and we hope her short time on earth will be an inspiration to young people all over the world. We are equally distraught by the passing of our Blackground family members Gina Smith and Keith Wallace. Their hard work and dedication were an invaluable contribution to the success of Aaliyah and Blackground. Our prayers go out to all the families."

Well-wishers are invited to send cards, flowers, letters, etc. to Blackground Record 49 West 27th Street, Mezzanine Level, New York, New York, 10001. Funeral arrangements were not finalized at press time.

Aaliyah's latest album, Aaliyah, was recently certified gold and sits at the Number 27 position on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week. The late singer will appear in Anne Rice's adaptation of The Queen Of The Damned, later this fall, in the title role.

Hard-Working Aaliyah Packed Hit Albums, Movies Into Short Life (8-27-01)

Aaliyah Dana Haughton died doing what she spent most of her life doing working.

The 22-year-old singer and actress was killed in a plane crash Saturday in the Bahamas. She was returning to the United States after shooting a video with director Hype Williams for "Rock the Boat." The sensual, Caribbean-flavored track in which Aaliyah gives love-making instructions to her boyfriend was already in heavy radio rotation and appeared to be the home-run single off her third album, Aaliyah, released a month earlier.

With that album already certified gold, the singer, who was still in school when she recorded her first two albums, was enjoying yet another success as she awaited the release of the movie "Queen of the Damned" and anticipated work on two sequels to "The Matrix."

Aaliyah's appeal transcended her capacity to hit high notes effortlessly or to cry on cue. It reflected a style sense (she was a Tommy Hilfiger spokesperson in 1997) that made her look as beautiful in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt as in an Armani frock.

Her charisma also lay in her willingness to show love to other artists, as she did for Lil' Kim during last summer's Notorious K.I.M. release party, when she danced the night away with her friend Jay-Z. And she seemed to genuinely appreciate and reciprocate the love her fans bestowed upon her.

"There are times when I sit back and look at my career as a whole and realize I am truly blessed to be doing something I love," she said during a taping of MTV's "Diary" in July. "Sometimes I'm taken aback. I'm very happy. There's so much more I want to do in my career, it's beyond words."

Age Ain't Nothing but a Number introduced the New York-born, Detroit-raised 15-year-old to the world in 1994, setting the stage for fellow teen platinum princesses Britney Spears, Brandy and Monica. R. Kelly wrote and produced most of the album; it didn't hurt that he was managed at the time by Aaliyah's uncle (and label CEO), Barry Hankerson.

The album's first single, the midtempo "Back and Forth," was propelled by Kelly's G-funk synthesizer beat and the teen's stratospheric voice. The track shot to the top of the R&B charts and to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

Although her gentle vocals were catchy enough to make her a pop star, the baggy pants covering her slender figure, shades and bandanas gave her ample street cred. Aaliyah was hip-hop, too.

The late Notorious B.I.G. recognized this when he picked her to sing alongside Lil' Kim and the rest of Junior M.A.F.I.A. on the 1995 hit "I Need You Tonight." She would eventually be featured on tracks with MCs including DMX, Kris Kross and Da Brat, Nas and Naughty by Nature's Treach.

"She was like a little sister to the industry, everybody loved her," said Treach, who worked with Aaliyah on "Girl Like You" from her second album, One in a Million (1996). "From when we met her till now, she was never on no superstar sh--. If she met you, it was like she knew you all her life, never no phoniness."

"Aaliyah was a real beautiful sister," RZA said Monday. "She's my favorite artist. She always came with a phat single."

Rap Renaissance woman Missy Elliott also wrote songs for Aaliyah's second album, and producer Timbaland's harder space-age sonic booms helped the record go multiplatinum. The title track, "If Your Girl Only Knew" and "Hot Like Fire" found Aaliyah evolving artistically. More mature and less shy, she was still able to convey an amiable innocence when she sang, in "4 Page Letter," about working up the courage to let a guy know she was interested. The three Million collaborators, along with Magoo and Ginuwine, began to refer to themselves as the "Superfriends."

Rather than return immediately into the studio for a follow-up, Aaliyah opted for a rest. This was cut short when she landed a role in the movie "Romeo Must Die" alongside Jet Li and DMX. "Romeo" was a box office smash, and displayed a new side of Aaliyah, as she lit up the screen with sass and sexiness as Trish O'Day. Her Timbaland-produced hit "Try Again" propelled "Romeo" 's 2000 soundtrack album to double-platinum certification. The motivational number is nominated for R&B/Soul or Rap Song of the Year at the seventh annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, to be taped in Santa Monica, California, on Tuesday night.

On July 17, she released Aaliyah, her first album in more than five years, and it debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It has sold more than 447,000 copies to date.

Aaliyah recorded the album while filming the sensual title role in the film adaptation of the Anne Rice novel "Queen of the Damned," which is due in early 2002 (see "Aaliyah Finishes New Album During Break From Movies"). She was also cast in the two "Matrix" sequels and had filmed a few scenes earlier this year, according to a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Pictures. She was scheduled to join the rest of the cast, which is filming both sequels concurrently, in Australia later this fall. It's too early to tell whether Aaliyah's scenes will end up in either of the sequels' final cuts, the spokesperson said.

"I would come home from the set and say to my wife, 'This girl is a freak she never loses her temper, she never gets impatient, she's a dream to direct,' " said "Queen of the Damned" director Michael Rymer. "You give her a note and she's like a machine, she executes it. She put up with hours of makeup and teeth and contact lenses and skimpy costumes in the freezing cold all night. She was a very pure spirit. It's easy to say now, and we said it then, at the end of the day, that girl is an ... angel.

"I'm a writer and I couldn't contrive a more tragic scenario," Rymer said of Aaliyah's demise. "The only real consolation is that she died doing what she loved to do. She was not a frustrated person whose goals had eluded her. She was doing what she loved and had nothing to regret."

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Timbaland, P. Diddy, Other Artists React To Aaliyah's Death (8-27-01)

The music community reacted Monday to the loss of one of its brightest young stars, praising the late Aaliyah for her creativity, warmth and kindness.

"She was like blood, and I lost blood," producer Timbaland, whose collaborations with Aaliyah included the hits "Are You That Somebody?" and "We Need a Resolution," said in a phone call to "TRL." "Me and her together had this chemistry. I kinda lost half of my creativity to her. It's hard for me to talk to the fans right now. Beyond the music, she was a brilliant person, the [most special] person I ever met." (Click for photos of Aaliyah and friends.)

Aaliyah, 22, was killed when the small plane she and eight others were traveling in crashed soon after takeoff in the Bahamas on Saturday (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"). The singer was on Abaco Island filming a video for "Rock the Boat," her label said, adding that it's too early to tell whether or not the video will ever air.

A visibly shaken P. Diddy, hosting "TRL" Monday, talked about his friendship with Aaliyah and mourned the death of an artist whose best work was yet to come. "She was one of those individuals that would light up a room," he said. "She always greeted you with a smile. Her time was coming; [she] was just about to explode."

He said Aaliyah's family was the closest he'd ever seen. Aaliyah is survived by her parents, Diane and Michael Haughton, and a brother, Rashad.

Other artists remembered the singer and actress as much for her personality as for her work.

DMX, who co-starred with Aaliyah in "Romeo Must Die" and dueted with her on "Come Back in One Piece" for the film's soundtrack album, characterized her as "talented, classy, warm, beautiful, compassionate [and] humble" in a statement issued Monday afternoon. Aaliyah was a "down-to-earth sister with enough energy to put anyone on a cloud," he said. "Let us pray."

"Words can't express what I'm feeling, she was family," Ginuwine said in a statement. "I will truly miss her."

"There are no words to express the loss of Aaliyah, whose unique talent was just beginning to blossom," Ernie Isley said in a statement. "The world will never get to see how her gift could have developed, and that is truly a loss." Aaliyah reworked the Isley Brothers' "Choosey Lover" for her 1996 album, One in a Million.

Michael Rymer, who directed Aaliyah in the title role of the upcoming "Queen of the Damned," remembered the star as a perfectionist and an exceptional young actress. "Aaliyah, who doesn't have an evil atom in her body, came off as this intensely sexual, sensuous, delightfully evil, naughty performer," he said. "It was a very tough role to pull off. ... I think she delivers.

"Of all the people I know, [she] had such a clear and pure spirit, such a clear idea of what she wanted. It's hard to imagine that being interrupted," added Rymer. Rymer said Aaliyah had planned to collaborate with Timbaland and Korn's Jonathan Davis for the film's soundtrack, but he wasn't sure if those plans came to fruition.

A Jive Records statement noted that R. Kelly, who produced Aaliyah's 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, was "deeply saddened by the tragic loss. His thoughts and prayers are with her family during their time of grief."

Aaliyah's "Romeo Must Die" co-star Jet Li issued a statement extending his condolences to Aaliyah's family and the family of Eric Foreman, a makeup artist who also died in the crash.

"I heard of the devastating news and am deeply saddened that she is no longer with us," Li said. "She was a wonderful and talented artist who will be missed by everyone whose lives she touched."

One music-industry veteran who worked with Aaliyah early on was struck by her motivation as a 12-year-old with a burning desire to break into the business. "It was clear she had all the gifts," said Hank Neuberger, executive vice president of Chicago Recording Company, where Aaliyah recorded much of Age Ain't Nothing. "She had a great voice, she was stunningly beautiful and she had a strong sense of what she could do at a very young age."

"Her depth and versatility as an artist was matched by the passion and devotion she had for her craft," Virgin Records said in a statement issued Sunday (see "Aaliyah Mourned As Artist Who Had 'Limitless Potential'").

Fans responded to the tragedy with candlelight vigils and spontaneous memorials. In Detroit, a candlelight vigil was set for Monday evening outside the Detroit High School for Fine and Performing Arts, according to a school official. Aaliyah graduated from the school with a 4.0 GPA in 1997.

"We are devastated," said Stan Childress, Detroit Public Schools communications director and former student activities advisor at the high school.

"This tragedy has young people crying, hugging each other, expressing love for each other, saying things like, 'This has taught us how to value life, because you don't know what's going to happen,' " said Childress, who noted that Aaliyah had often given her time and advice to fellow students aspiring to enter the entertainment business. "She's an angel for this city."

Outside Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, fans wrote messages on an Aaliyah billboard and left candles and flowers, according to clerk Jonathan Stapleton. He added that the store has seen a huge increase in demand for her albums over the past few days.

In New York, a spray-paint artist was busy Monday creating a mural of the singer in Manhattan's Lower East Side, according to the Associated Press.

An investigation into the plane crash was ongoing Monday, and authorities in the Bahamas said initial indications pointed to engine failure as the accident's cause. Among the eight others killed in the crash were Foreman, 29, bodyguard Scott Gallin, 41, and Virgin Records' director of video production, Douglas Kratz, 28.

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Aaliyah Mourned As Artist Who Had 'Limitless Potential' (8-26-01)

Aaliyah's friends, family and associates said Sunday (August 26) that they were devastated by the sudden loss of the 22-year-old singer and actress, who died in a plane crash Saturday night.

Her family which includes her parents, Diane and Michael Haughton, and a brother, Rashad expressed their grief in a brief statement issued through Blackground Records.

"Aaliyah's family is devastated at the loss of their loving daughter and sister," the statement said. "Their hearts go out to those families who also lost their loved ones in this tragic accident."

Aaliyah was one of nine people aboard a twin-engine plane that crashed seconds after taking off from the Bahamas, where she had been shooting a video (see "Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash"). All nine died.

Others killed in the accident included Aaliyah makeup artist Eric Foreman, 29, and Virgin Records director of video production Douglas Kratz, 28.

Blackground Records, which co-released Aaliyah's albums with Virgin Records, called the singer/actress its "queen."

"The example she showed young people will be sorely missed and we hope her short time on earth will be an inspiration to young people all over the world," the label, owned by Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson, said. The label's statement also mourned two other victims of the crash, Gina Smith and Keith Wallace, who it said were members of the Blackground family.

Virgin Records, meanwhile, called Aaliyah "one of the world's brightest and most talented stars, [who] will be mourned by all who loved her and loved her music."

"Her depth and versatility as an artist was matched by the passion and devotion she had for her craft," Virgin added in a statement.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Warner Bros. Pictures' president of worldwide production, who met Aaliyah when she made her acting debut in last year's "Romeo Must Die," said her passing was "a huge loss."

"Aaliyah was one of the finest young women I have ever worked with. She was a consummate professional, an amazing talent with limitless potential and, most importantly, an exceptional person," di Bonaventura said in a statement. "Her passing is a huge loss to her many friends here at Warner Bros. and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to her family and to those who loved her as we did."

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Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash (8/26/01)

Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash Saturday in the Bahamas.

The 22-year-old singer and actress, born Aaliyah Haughton, was one of nine people aboard a twin-engine plane that crashed seconds after taking off from the Bahamas, according to Grand Bahama police superintendent Basil Rahming. All nine died.

Aaliyah was in the Bahamas shooting a video, Minister of Tourism Tommy Turnquest told the Associated Press.

She died instantly when the plane, a Cessna 402B, exploded on impact just 200 feet beyond the end of a runway at Marsh Harbour International Airport on Abaco Island at 6:45 p.m., Rahming said. The craft, which was bound for Opa-Locka Airport, just northwest of Miami, apparently suffered engine failure upon liftoff, he said.

Others killed in the accident included Aaliyah makeup artist Eric Foreman, 29, and Virgin Records representative Douglas Kratz, 28, according to Rahming. Two other women and three other men, including the pilot, died in the crash; another male passenger died early Sunday morning in Nassau, where he was awaiting airlift to a Miami hospital, authorities said.

Aaliyah "was like one of my daughters, she was one of the sweetest girls in the world," producer Quincy Jones told the AP. "I loved her and respected her and I am absolutely devastated." (For more reaction, see "Aaliyah Mourned As Artist Who Had 'Limitless Potential.'")

"We find it devastating and most unfortunate that after having this world-famous star Aaliyah and her crew select the Bahamas as their choice location for her latest video, the project has climaxed on such a tragic note," tourism minister Turnquest told the news service.

In July, Aaliyah released her self-titled third album, which found her moving away from club beats toward more introspective, midtempo numbers (see "Aaliyah Makes Love And War On New Album"). The album features the single "We Need a Resolution," one of three songs she recorded with producer and frequent collaborator Timbaland.

The singer, who co-starred with martial artist Jet Li in the 2000 action flick "Romeo Must Die," plays the title role in the film adaptation of the Anne Rice novel "Queen of the Damned" and was cast in "The Matrix 2," both due in 2002 (see "Aaliyah Finishes New Album During Break From Movies").

She released her first album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, in 1994.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the Civil Aviation Department of the Bahamas will jointly investigate the crash, Rahming said.

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Aaliyah: Been A Long Time (April 2001)
 

Just like there will always be actors who really want to direct, there will be pop stars who want to act. But for every Will Smith, there's a dozen Spice Girls who give the cross-over a bad name. Thankfully, enigmatic R&B singer Aaliyah isn't going the "Spice World" route. Not only has she rung up chart hits, but she's also building a rsum as a bankable actress who brings a sense of adventure and intrigue to her roles.

Now, if only the 22-year-old would work a bit faster in the studio. Fans had to wait five years between the release of 1996's One in a Million and her just-released, self-titled, third album. In the interim, Aaliyah did some soundtrack songs ("Anastasia," "Dr. Dolittle") and had a well-received big screen debut in the urban drama "Romeo Must Die." Judging by "We Need a Resolution," the sexy first single from her new album, the wait was worth it. Aaliyah told Elon Johnson and Curtis Waller what it felt like to turn into a vampire for her next role, why she loves snakes and why information on her part in the upcoming sequels to the "Matrix" is strictly on a need-to-know basis. And you don't need to know ... yet.

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MTV: Your video for "We Need a Resolution" and the album both feature a snake theme. What's that all about?

Aaliyah: I first dealt with snakes when I was in Australia and I did the photo shoot for the album. We used five pythons in the shoot. At first, I was a little nervous, but once I started to handle them, I totally fell in love and felt an affinity toward them. They're very mysterious creatures. They live in solitude, [and] there are times in my life [when] I just want to be by myself. There are times I can't even figure myself out. I feel they are very complex creatures, [but] at the same time, they're sexy, too. That's why they represent Aaliyah pretty well. They're dangerous, but quite beautiful. I thought that it would be an animal that could represent me on this album, so I wanted to take it from the photo shoot to the video and probably throughout the whole project.

MTV: It doesn't really seem like it's been five years since your last album, because your presence has been constant.

Aaliyah: That was something that I wanted to do. I wanted to take a break after One in a Million to just relax, think about how I wanted to approach the next album. Then, when I was ready to start back up, "Romeo" happened, and so I had to take another break and do that film and then do the soundtrack, then promote it. The break turned into a longer break than I anticipated.

MTV: What were you doing outside of the movie that prolonged releasing another album?

Aaliyah: The movies actually prolonged the album. I started working on this third album before I did "Romeo Must Die." When that project came up, I took a break from [the album] to do [the movie]. I took a conscious break before starting to record, because I wanted to rejuvenate and get my creative juices flowing. But then the other projects came up. That's what pushed the album back even further. When I did [the movie] "Queen of the Damned," I decided to record the album at the same time so that I could release [it] this year.

MTV: Do you feel you've made any sacrifices in your music career to work on your movie career?

Aaliyah: No. I don't feel I made any sacrifices at all. In the interim ... I still did my music. I was on a number of soundtracks, and we did videos to a few of those songs. Right now, I'm doing my best to juggle both. I don't want to abandon one for the other, and I don't think I need to sacrifice anything in order to put my all into either one of them.

MTV: Do you feel any pressure this time around that wasn't there for your last album?

Aaliyah: I don't think about my previous success. I'm happy that the work I've done in the past has been very successful. All I can do is leave it in God's hands and hope that my fans feel where I'm coming from. I took the time out to give my all. Being in Australia [filming "Queen of the Damned"] was really cool, because I really got to take a break from what was going on in the industry and be totally creative.

MTV: You worked with Timbaland on the first single, but you also worked with a lot of other new producers. Who did you work with this time, and why did you pick these particular people?

Aaliyah: These new producers are in our camp. They're with the Blackground [label] family. Their names are Bud'da, J. Dub, and E. Seats. [They're] amazing producers. They add a wonderful new flavor to the project, along with Timbaland, who has three cuts on the album. ... The sound that you heard before from Aaliyah is evident, but it's just a little bit different. It's a little bit more mature.

MTV: You said one of your favorite songs on the album is "I Can Be." What does it mean to you?

Aaliyah: I like that song, because it speaks about being the other woman. There are relationships out there where a guy already has a girlfriend and he's got one on the side, too. What's cool about it [is that] music is for everyone to interpret in [their] own way. You may hear a song and feel one way about it, and I feel another. My interpretation of that song is, even though I'm singing [about being] the other woman in your life, I'll be on the side, I don't mind. It's so dark. There's a part of [the character] that is so depressing, it makes you feel she doesn't really mean what she's saying. She likes this guy, but she really doesn't want to be the other girl on the side. It's really a sad story, and I liked that. These songs on this album talk about relationships in every aspect.

MTV: Have any of these songs been sitting around since the last album?

Aaliyah: My favorite song is "I Care 4 U." That song is five years old. I listened to it right when I finished One in a Million and ... I wish I could've put it on that album. But we put it to the side [and] waited. It's a timeless, classic song. It still sounds amazing to this day. Missy [Elliott] wrote that [one].

MTV: Does "We Need a Resolution" speak to a specific person or situation?

Aaliyah: Not personally, no. This song just speaks about relationships and things that happen in life. This particular song doesn't touch on anything that happened to me in my life, it just speaks about a relationship that has gone a little sour and the lady's asking for a resolution. [She's saying], "We need to talk, we need to solve this."

MTV: Was shooting "Queen of the Damned" more challenging then "Romeo Must Die"?
Aaliyah: It's hard to compare them, because they're so different. I play a fantastical creature in "Queen of the Damned." I play a vampire, and not just any vampire. I'm playing the queen of all vampires! She's the mother, she's 4,000 centuries old. She's a bit evil but very regal, so there was a lot I had to do to really find [the character], Akasha. I took months of preparation for that. She had to have an accent, and [I] had to do wire work because she flew, so there was a lot that went into bringing Akasha to life.

MTV: You just finished shooting "Queen of the Damned," and you're going to San Francisco before you go back to Australia for the "Matrix" sequels. How's that going?

Aaliyah: I don't have to go back to Australia until next year to finish shooting [the "Matrix" sequels]. It actually works out great, because I have the time needed to support the album and tour. ... It's kind of hard juggling both of them, because it's double the workload. But the way I look at is I just let it work itself out, let it flow. If I don't think about it, it won't drive me crazy.

MTV: Have you been doing any special preparation for the "Matrix" sequels, given all the action scenes that are going to be in it?

Aaliyah: I know I'm involved in some action scenes, so they'll definitely train me for that. I'll be working with my acting coach before I go out there, to prepare for my character.

MTV: Can you tell me a little bit about your "Matrix" character, Zee?

Aaliyah: I can't say much about Zee, unfortunately. "The Matrix" is top secret. They're making sure we know that there isn't much that can be said right now. [Smiles]

Click and Watch Aaliyah: Conversations are from the interview above

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Aaliyah: Action Heroine (March 1, 2000)
 


Ever since Aaliyah delivered her first starring role to the local multiplex via "Romeo Must Die," we don't feel quite so bad about having to call her third album "long-awaited" for a few more months.

Taking the lead opposite Hong Kong action superstar Jet Li (who plays revenge-minded HK cop Han Sing) is no easy task, but R&B's "baby girl" equips herself with ease as Trish, Han's accomplice and eventual romantic interest. She even allows herself to be used as a weapon at one point... but we won't lay a spoiler on you by telling you how.

While she continues to work on her third album, fans can be contented with the "Romeo Must Die" soundtrack album, which includes three new Aaliyah tracks -- including a duet with DMX on "Come Back In One Piece" -- along with her contribution to "Next Friday," "I Don't Wanna." Her video for the slinky first single, "Try Again," is already on the airwaves, and it brings back the complex group dancing and abs-baring antics so fondly remembered from "Are You That Somebody?" -- a clip that practically owned 1998.

Aaliyah stopped by our studios recently to debut her new video during a hosting gig on "TRL," and the MTV Radio Network's Roger Coletti managed to give her an idea or two about getting her clip on the countdown and who she might want to call for a collaboration. He also found out all about her experiences on the set with Jet Li and DMX, her new soundtrack songs, and her plans for that third album which remains, yes, still very much long-awaited.

We've got that interview, along with RealVideo of her clip for "Try Again" as well as performance video from her movie premiere party, right here in this MTV Online feature.

MTV Radio Network: How did you get involved in the movie "Romeo Must Die?"

Aaliyah: This is something I've wanted to do for a very long time. I've always been an entertainer -- singing and dancing and acting. I wanted to wait, though, for the right project and the right everything. So I went to Warner Bros. to meet on another movie project, and I told them what I wanted in a movie and what I wanted in a character, and [I heard] about "Romeo" and I went for it. I did a screen test with [producer] Joel Silver, and I got it.

MTV: Were you ever nervous about how fans of your music would take to this, seeing this different side of you?

A: Oh, definitely. Before we went to shoot the movie, I was extremely nervous. I'm like, "This is new. This is important to my career." I mean, this is the transition from music to acting, and it's the real deal. I've got to give my all. So I was very nervous about it, but I think [people will] enjoy it, and hopefully they'll get lost in [my character] Trish and forget about Aaliyah when they're watching the movie.

MTV: Most people, when making the transition, start out with a small role, and you come out co-starring in an action movie.

A: It's just totally a blessing, because I didn't plan on it being this way. I would have definitely taken smaller roles to get to this point, but "Romeo" just came along, and it happened to be the right thing.

MTV: What was so attractive to you about the role of Trish?

A: What I like about Trish is that she's tough. She's independent. She doesn't take anything off anybody. But at the same time, she loves her family. She's got a sweet side. So I felt I could play her, and people could get into her. It would be realistic to people, being that people know me as Aaliyah, the artist -- there is this image that I have. I wanted to make the right transition and have people understand where I was going, and I felt Trish embodied all of that.

MTV: How much of Trish is in you, and how much of you is in Trish?

A: A lot. I basically am Trish. I'm very independent, and I do take control of a situation if I feel the need to, and she's just like that.

MTV: Were the emotional scenes difficult for you to perform?

A: The crying scene was the most difficult scene. My coach was with me on set, so we worked on that one, and when I see it now, I feel good, because those are real tears. It's the real thing. But it was a little intimidating at first, because when I read it in the script, I was like, "Oh my gosh, I have to cry, I have to be funny, I have to be this, that." But it was also fun, and it was great to show my versatility.

MTV: How did you prepare yourself to cry on camera?

A: It was a very depressing day. The whole day, I had to really touch a lot of pain, things that happened to me in my life. My grandmother passed away two years ago, so I thought about her. It was a draining and depressing day, but it brought those tears out.

MTV: In one of the scenes, Jet Li uses you as weapon. Talk about that scene. Did you have to train for it?

A: Well, I wanted Trish to be involved in the action, so when I talked to the director, I asked him, "Well, is she just going tag along? What is she going to do?" And he said, "No, she'll definitely be a part of all the fun." Jet came up with the whole idea of doing this fight-slash-dance scene, and it took a month to rehearse. I had to get used to the harness, to be on the wire. We shot that in a weekend. It took three days. I know it was a quick scene, but it took three whole days to get that scene tight.

MTV: Where you shocked when you saw it afterwards? Did you say to yourself, "I can't believe I did this?"

A: Oh, yeah. I was so happy. I saw the rough -- I haven't seen the final [cut] of the movie yet -- but I saw the rough, and I was like, this is just great! It's definitely hot, and it's so smooth and graceful. It was great to see.

Playing Juliet (06/15/2000)
 

The night of R&B crooner Joe's record release party, Aaliyah breezes into New York's Club Exit, sporting a tan suede jacket, a luminous smile, and a '70s Farah Fawcett mane of shiny black hair (with red tips), surrounded by an entourage from her label, Blackground Entertainment. Heads turn, cameras flash, and microphones catch her every word. This is celebritydom, baby, and 22-year-old Aaliyah is basking in it, easily maneuvering herself into the major leagues. No longer just the cutie-pie R&B singer with hip videos and futuristic beats, after successfully co-starring with martial arts whiz Jet Li in her first feature film, Romeo Must Die (her Timbaland-produced "Try Again" is the soundtrack's runaway smash single), Aaliyah is fast becoming a bona fide megastar.

"I went to Warner Bros. to read for other projects and they said that Romeo was in the works," explains the soft-spoken Aaliyah, speaking on from her L.A. hotel room a month or so after the Joe party. "When they said Jet was in it, I wanted it right away. I did a screen test and got the part. It wasn't written specifically for me, but when they put me in they were like, 'We want you to be comfortable with [Aaliyah's character in the film] Trish.' So I helped out with the wardrobe and picked out things that I would wear, which was cool."

Considering that, unlike R&B singer/ actress Brandy, Aaliyah didn't have a sitcom on her showbiz rsum, her sudden jump from the recording studio to the big screen came as shock to most. Despite her experience attending a high school for the performing arts and, more recently, 18 months' worth of acting lessons, it was still a mighty leap for her to make. Her success in Romeo has lead to a role in an upcoming vampire flick, Queen (which, Aaliyah says regrettably, the studio has ordered her not discuss). She assures, however, that her thespian pursuits will not cause her music to be bumped to the back burner.

"Music still comes first," she states flatly. "In fact, right now I'm in the middle of recording my new album with Timbaland. We had to take a break for the film and then to do the soundtrack. We've recorded a lot of songs, of which probably only four or five will make it. I'm trying to get it finished by the end of the summer. It's going to be a very upbeat album--very few ballads. Missy [Elliott] will definitely have some songs on there, and the guys from Playa, who are also in the camp. They did the song 'Try Again,' and 'Are You That Somebody' from the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack."

It's been six years of nonstop work for Aaliyah, who was born in Brooklyn, raised in Michigan, and now calls Manhattan home. Her debut album on Blackground/ Jive, Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number--produced by her former mentor R. Kelly and containing the hits "Back And Forth" and "At Your Best (You Are Love)"--set the ball rolling back in '94. (Aaliyah and Kelly parted ways amid controversy stemming from Vibe magazine's printing of a marriage certificate that allegedly proved that the two had wed when Aaliyah was only 16; Aaliyah subsequently left Jive Records, and has had nothing to do with Kelly since). Her career went into overdrive with her groundbreaking sophomore set, One In A Million on Blackground/ Atlantic, which teamed her up with the then-fledgling writing team of Missy Elliot and Tim "Timbaland" Mosley. Their unique brand of smoothed-out R&B over trippy, stuttered hip-hop beats redefined the sound of urban America, and spawned a slew of imitators. Hits such as "One In A Million" and "Hot Like Fire," not to mention the aforementioned anthem "Are You That Somebody," cemented Aaliyah's image as the midriff-baring street-but-sweet R&B icon who, along with her producers, set the pulse of black radio. "Try Again" from Romeo Must Die has helped Aaliyah and company continue to dominate the R&B genre between albums.

"When I first heard that track, I went nuts for it!" Aaliyah says enthusiastically of "Try Again." "I felt all the sounds and the beats. When it came time for me to do my verses, I was basically dancing while I was singing. That comes across on the melody. If you're feeling it, then everyone will feel it."

Although Aaliyah doesn't write her own lyrics, she's adamant that they suit her personality. "Lyrically, I want things to be different," she stresses. "Very deep. I love deep songs. I admire Stevie Wonder, because he's someone that can take a love song and really put you in a whole 'nother place. I want to touch everybody. I think I'm a sweet person, very laid-back, but I'm also very complex. I want my music and the work that I do to stress that. It can't be one-dimensional."

Her depth was put to the challenge during the filming of Romeo Must Die. One scene in particular stands out: "When I had to do my crying scene--man! I had to deal with a lot of pain and emotion to bring the tears up," she recalls. "That was the most intimidating part of the whole script. My grandmother passed two years ago, and I was very close with her, so I thought about her a lot, and other painful moments in my life. It was a very depressing, draining day. When I see it now, it's very rewarding to know that I actually did cry."

Conversely, Romeo also allowed Aaliyah (who names Glenn Close and Al Pacino as her favorite actors) to draw inspiration from one of her onscreen heroines. "I like the character of Trinity [from The Matrix]. I think any girl would have loved that. I had my little Matrix move which I was very excited about!" she laughs. "I had to train for a month just for that, because I didn't want to use a stunt double. My flexibility helped, and I picked up the choreography easily. But getting used to the harness to walk up the side of the truck was the hardest part."

Aside from the tears and stunt work, the character of Trish was one Aaliyah feels she portrayed so well because, ultimately, it wasn't too much of a stretch. "We're similar in almost every way," she admits. "She's edgy, she loves her family, and that's what motivates her. I'm exactly like that. She's a little quicker to speak her mind than me. I'm generally very reserved, and very sweet. One thing about me is that I work hard, and I'm a hell of a perfectionist. I will go in a redo vocals three or four times over."

Aaliyah doesn't really seem like a New Yorker. The fast pace and brashness of the city and many of its famously brusque inhabitants seems dramatically at odds with her mellow and sweet demeanor. Is she aware of this contrast? "I love New York," Aaliyah responds immediately. "I'm really happy. It allows me to do what I want to do. I mean, basically, I'm a homebody. I go to the movies or play laser-tag or go bowling. But then I also like to dance. I wanna take salsa classes when I get back to New York. I don't wanna go to a [salsa] club and get out there [on the dance floor] and not be able to really dance."

But Aaliyah's salsa dancing ambitions may well have to be put on hold for the foreseeable future, as her next year has already been mapped out. After completing her new album, she'll fly off to Australia to shoot her forthcoming film, and upon her return, she'll go straight into the promotion of her new album, the first single of which is expected by the year's end. It will all culminate in her largest tour yet, starting next summer.

"Touring is always the most fun part," says Aaliyah, who has been performing live since her first album was released when she was 15 years old. "On the second tour, compared to the first, I was more comfortable onstage. I had a better idea of what I wanted with the sets. The next tour is really going to be mind-blowing! I know exactly what I want to do. The older I get, the more in control I am. Janet [Jackson]'s shows, Michael Jackson's shows, are what you really have to aim for. They're onstage for an hour-and-a-half, two hours. But you never get bored, because the show is constantly changing. I know what I have to do. I just can't wait to get out there and do it!"


Killer Queen (07/05/2001)
 

A garish gold awning looms above the Trump International Hotel like a middle-finger salute to the rest of the world, letting the countless tourists and joggers making their way into Central Park know that the guests inside are the biggest, the best, and have more money than everyone else...and screw them if they don't like it! Donald Trump may be many things, but subtle is not one of them.

This would mean absolutely nothing, if not for my reason for showing up at Mr. Trump's hotel in the first place: to speak to that coolly understated budding superstarlet of cinema and urban radio, Aaliyah. I find it odd that the powers-that-be didn't at her record label, Blackground/Virgin, chose to lodge their subtle, sultry songstress in such a decidedly unsubtle, un-sultry setting. But such are the mysteries of life.

Less puzzling is Aaliyah Haughton's ascendance to the dizzy heights of near-megastardom. After debuting with the rock-solid, R. Kelly-produced Age Ain't Nothing But A Number when she was only 15 years old (was it really seven years ago?), she really found her stuttered, syncopated groove two years later, when beatmeister Timbaland and his cohort Missy Elliott came on board for her sophomore album, One In A Million. It was then that she established her niche by meshing the sleek and the stylish with street-savvy, cutting-edge production and beats: Her second album's title track remains a landmark in America's recent urban soundscape, spawning a multitude of copycats. By the time Timbaland scored a double-whammy with "Are You That Somebody?" and "Try Again" (from the Nutty Professor and Romeo Must Die soundtracks, respectively), producer and artist were seated comfortably on their shared throne within the hierarchy of R&B.

Add to all this Aaliyah's star turn in Romeo Must Die, which proved she has the talent to go all the way in Hollywood, far beyond the cachet of Brandy's sitcom or Beyonc's and Monica's made-for-MTV movies. In fact, she sees none other than Barbra Streisand as a role model in this regard. ("She did what I'm doing--started off singing and moved into acting and produced--although I think I'll always continue to dance and perform. It's innate.") Aaliyah has already landed more plum leading roles--in the next two Matrix sequels and the film adaptation of Anne Rice's Queen Of The Damned. At this rate, she'll soon be hot enough to fry an egg on. Hopefully, she's investing wisely.

"Well, you know, I try, you know," laughs the Michigan-born-and-raised singer/actress, a little embarrassed when I bring up the subject of how all this showbiz activity must be giving her bank account quite a turbo-boost. "Actually, I don't really talk about that side of things too much, because it's very personal, but what I will say is that I'm very involved in every aspect of my career--not just the singing and acting, but I go to all the meetings with the lawyers and accountants and have personal relationships with them. It's very important to have that. I'd say to any artist, 'Be aware of every aspect of your career, because first and foremost, this is a business.'"

The making of Aaliyah's new self-titled album--her second with Timbaland and third overall--had to be scheduled around her busy film career, which might explain why fans had to wait so long for its release. "We started recording this album before I did Romeo," she states. "We did three songs and then had to get into the soundtrack album. Of those songs, 'Rock Da Boat' and 'Loose Rap' made it to this album, so they're a couple of years old. I just knew they were special and I had to keep them." "I've got to go there. I feel my image and signature style is very unique, and I never want to be afraid of trying different things."


Aaliyah was produced and penned by Blackground's in-house crew of beat technicians, musicians, and songsmiths, including the ubiquitous Timbaland, Key Beats, Tank, Missy, and dominant songwriter Statik (from the group Playa), who previously wrote "Are You That Somebody?" and "Try Again." Combining Timbaland's trademark speaker-testing drum 'n' bass beats with some mellow '80s-style jazz-funk and a whole lot more, the new album's highlights include the retro jazziness of "Rock Da Boat" and the infectious, breezy hip-hop/funk of the second single, "More Than A Woman."

Aaliyah considers her musical relationship with songwriter Statik a crucial component in her own self-expression. "We've got to know each other very well. All I have to do is tell Statik what I'm feeling, and he'll just put it into words. We recorded most of the album in Australia, because that's where we were shooting Queen Of The Damned. Statik and Blak [his Playa bandmate, who also worked on the album] referenced the vocals and played the songs for me, and I picked the ones I liked. Then they recorded me in Australia. I told them that I wanted us to talk about things we hadn't talked about before and to really go deep into ourselves.

"Tank wrote the song 'I Can Be,' which has that dark and edgy thing I love," she continues. "It also has a bit of rock 'n' roll. I love to fuse other types of music with my own. The subject matter is talking about being 'the other girl.' It's saying, 'I know you're in a relationship, but I'll be the other person in your life.' Now, I'm sure everyone will take that differently, but my take on it is the girl in the song is saying that she's really not happy with that--she wants to be number one. Those things can happen in life, and it's a sad situation, so the song has that feeling to it."

Another song with attention-getting lyrics is "Never No More," which deals with the subject of spousal abuse. "When Statik wrote that, I went over and hugged him. We had talked about the topic first and agreed, 'We've got to go there.' I feel my image and signature style is very unique, and I never want to be afraid of trying different things."

Certainly different for Aaliyah was playing the part of Akasha, mother of all vampires, in Queen Of The Damned--a role that obviously appealed to her dark side. "I remember reading the script when I was doing Romeo...I'm an Anne Rice fan, and knew I had to do this role," she recalls. As an actress, Aaliyah definitely prefers dark and eerie roles: "I would have loved to have played Clarice Starling in Silence Of The Lambs, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's the best adaptation of a novel I've seen other than The Godfather."

By why so dark all the time? "I can't help it!" she exclaims. "I'm a complex person! It's part of Aaliyah. What people don't know about me is that I've very kind and jovial, but there are also times when I'm very melancholy. When I'm with my close friends and my family--I'm very close to my parents [who are also her managers] and my brother--we laugh all the time. I love comedy as much as I love my dark side and vampires and Silence Of The Lambs."

Starring in Queen Of The Damned proved quite a challenge for the young actress. "I met the director and did a few work sessions with him. It took a lot to bring [the character] to life. I rehearsed for a month here in New York and another month in Australia. [Akasha is] Egyptian, so I worked with an accent coach and we came up with a hybrid of American and Egyptian. Then I also worked with choreographer to get the movement of vampires down, especially her, because she's the queen and very statuesque. She's very evil, extremely powerful, and she's a bit of a brat because she's so young. She's used to getting what she wants. So it was a real challenge for me to play all those sides to her."

Aaliyah also admits that all the blood-sucking that the movie required didn't come easily. "This role was also the first time I had to do a little love scene, which I was very nervous about!" Aaliyah giggles nervously. "However, as a character she's very manipulative and very sexual, so I had to put my shyness to the side and be Akasha. The scene took place in a hot tub filled with roses. Once I got over the shy part, it was a lot of fun."

In reality, the sometimes-shy Aaliyah is a model of understatement, just like her music. She's beautiful, but hardly in a high-gloss, supermodel way--more like a really good-looking girl next door. And rather than bling-blinging her ice in a ghetto-fabulous manner befitting her Trumped-up surroundings, she blings on the down-low: A subtle bracelet here, a winking pendant there, offset by her simple black jeans and matching sweater. Trs cool.

"There are so many different kinds of pressure in this business, but you can't let it be but so pressurizing," states Aaliyah when discussing the high expectations surrounding her film career, her new album, and the darkly exotic video to the single "We Need A Resolution," in which she writhes around with live snakes. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to be true to myself and not let anything else influence me to do what someone else is doing. Being a little edgy and sexy is me. My image isn't a put-on. I'm happy to put over that dark edge in my videos, because it's always been there. I used to wear my sunglasses or have my hair over one eye a lot more when I was younger. [Now] I'm happy with all aspects of myself."

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