This Day In Black History: Jan. 16, 1979

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 5:  American R&B singer Aaliyah, aka Aaliyah Dana Houghton (1979-2001) poses for a photo backstage at Madison Square Garden for Lifebeat's Urban Aid benefit concert on October 5, 1995 in New York City, New York.  (Photo by Catherine McGann/Getty Images)

This Day In Black History: Jan. 16, 1979

Singer Aaliyah was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 16, 1979.

UPDATED ON : JANUARY 16, 2021 / 09:19 AM

Written by Dominique Zonyéé

Singer and actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton started singing as soon as she could talk. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 16, 1979, she was determined to be a star. She scored her first record deal with Jive Records by the time she turned 12 years old, and by the early '90s she became a household name.

Aaliyah's path to stardom was much like many child stars in the '90s, she appeared on Star Search and even sang along with Gladys Knight in Las Vegas. But her big break would not come until 1994. At the age of 15, Aaliyah took over the R&B charts with her debut album Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, produced by R. Kelly. The album featured classic smash hits "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number," "Back and Forth" and "At Your Best (You Are Love)."

Her success continued with her sophomore album One in a Million in 1996, which sold more than 2 million copies. It seemed like Aaliyah couldn't be stopped. The following year, she received an Academy Award nomination for "Journey to the Past," the theme song to the animated feature Anastasia.

Aaliyah was still on top by 2000. She starred in the film Romeo Must Die, alongside DMX and Jet Li. Her accompanying soundtrack single, "Try Again," became her first No. 1 hit on the pop charts. The following year, she released her third album Aaliyah, which would be her last album released while she was alive.

Little more than a month after the release of her album in July, Aaliyah and eight members of her film crew were killed in the Bahamas on Aug. 25, 2001.  She was there to shoot the video for Aaliyah's second single, "Rock the Boat."

Photo: Catherine McGann/Getty Images


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