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Examining Aaliyah's Legacy 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago, the beloved singer-actor Aaliyah was tragically killed when the plane she was traveling on crashed soon after taking off from the Bahamas. Her fanbase, which has only grown with time, is using the day to remember Aaliyah and her contributions to the arts.

Aaliyah Dana Haughton's ascension to stardom began when she appeared on the interactive reality game show Star Search at the age of ten. Afterwards, she began auditioning under the mononym "Aaliyah" and appeared in several concerts alongside her uncle's ex-wife Gladys Knight. At 12 she was signed to Blackground Records, and soon came into contact with singer R. Kelly, who mentored her and helped Aaliyah produce her first album, "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number". Afterwards, she collaborated repeatedly with artist Timbaland, and began to expand into the world of acting.

Over the following years, she contributed several acclaimed songs to various films, including a cover version of "Journey to the Past" that won an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Aaliyah also starred in the zesty action film Romeo Must Die alongside martial artist Jet Li, which received mixed reviews. The same could not be said of "Try Again", a song she created for the movie, which won her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist and sold over a million copies.

Aaliyah went on to release Aaliyah, a music album, and act in Queen of the Damned, a feature film. Before leaving for the Bahamas to shoot the music video for her new single, "Rock the Boat", Aaliyah had also been cast in The Matrix sequels and had completed filming for several scenes. Though the shoot was successful, their return flight was flown by a pilot who had falsified his qualifications and had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time. The plane, which was overburdened, crashed soon after leaving the runway, killing everyone on board.

After her death, Aaliyah's music received renewed attention, with "Rock the Boat" remaining on the Billboard Hot 100 for 25 weeks and sales of Aaliyah spiking by over 40 percent. Her posthumous popularity has persisted to this day, and artists such as Adele, The Weeknd, and Arctic Monkeys have all cited her as an influence. Recently, her music was re-released on streaming services, and her personal life has been reexamined due to the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, which delved into the sexual abuse allegations against Kelly and revealed new details about Kelly and Aaliyah's relationship.

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