Saturday, August 25, 2012 marked the 11th anniversary of the tragic death of singer Aaliyah, 22, who passed away along with eight other people on the night of August 25, 2001. Aaliyah was flying from the Bahamas to Florida after finishing her work on the music video “Rock the Boat,” a track off her third and final album, Aaliyah, when the plane crashed right after takeoff. Bahaman officials have still not determined the cause of the crash, but the plane was suspected to be over its weight restriction, and the pilot had a criminal record and was not licensed to fly the plane. An autopsy of the pilot revealed he had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system.

Born Aaliyah Dana Haughton on January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York, Aaliyah moved to Detroit at a young age and displayed a penchant for performing. At age 11, she opened for her aunt, Gladys Knight, 68, and at 14 she released her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, which went on to be certified double platinum. Upon speculation that Aaliyah and her producer, hip hop artist R. Kelly, 45, had illegally married when she was 15 and he was 27, Aaliyah left Jive Records for Atlantic Records. Aaliyah released two more records, One in a Million in 1996, which sold more than eight million copies worldwide and helped boost the career of Missy Elliot, 41, released in July 2001 shortly before her death.

Aaliyah became a triple threat as she also modeled for Tommy and starred in the films Romeo Must Die. Jet Li, 49, and Stuart Townsend, 39, which was released posthumously. She was also slated to appear in the two sequels to The Matrix.

For all of her accomplishments, Aaliyah is perhaps best remembered for the tremendous impact her music had on people’s lives. Her influence is still present in current artists Timbaland and Elliot. “Tim and I were new producers,” Elliot told Rolling Stone. “From day one, she had that much faith in our music that she treated us like we already sold two million records, when we hadn’t sold anything yet. She really helped make us what we are today.” –Hal Sundt

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