10 Facts About Aaliyah You Might Not Know
1. Gladys Knight Is Aaliyah’s Aunt
Legendary soul singer Gladys Knight—best known for various hits with her group the Pips—is Aaliyah’s aunt through her marriage to Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson. Knight and Hankerson married five years before Aaliyah was born in 1974. Hankerson played a major role in Aaliyah’s success as he managed her throughout her career. Knight also helped Aaliyah rise to prominence by allowing the young singer to perform with her during a five-night stint in Las Vegas when Aaliyah was just 11-years-old.
2. Aaliyah Appeared On Star Search (1990)
When Aaliyah was 10-years-old, she appeared on the music discovery show Star Search. As a finalist, she chose to sing the song “My Funny Valentine” from the musical Babes In Arms. She said of the choice, “[It] was my mommy’s song…So that song is special to me because of her.”
Aaliyah didn’t win, but she finished with the judges giving her a cumulative score of 3.25 out of 4. When she was asked about it afterward she said, “It was an incredible experience—me and [Ed] McMahon and just being on theStar Search stage because it was a show that I really looked up to.”
3. Aaliyah Met Her Best Friend Kidada Jones At A Tommy Hilfiger Fashion Show (1993)
One of Aaliyah’s closest friends was Kidada Jones—the daughter of music legend Quincy Jones and fiance to Tupac Shakur at the time of his death. Jones worked as a stylist at VIBE and later she also became a model and actress. Kidada says the two met in 1993 at a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show and hit it off right away.
Jones styled the Hilfiger show and claimed that Aaliyah didn’t have shoes for the show. So she loaned the singer her own because they both had small feet. The two would later model for Hilfiger in an ad campaign (which also featured her friends Tamia, Kate Hudson, and Nicole Richie) and travel together.
4. Aaliyah Almost Wore Jeans To Her Senior Prom (1997)
By the time Aaliyah’s senior prom came around, her professional career was already in full swing. However the singer put on jeans for the event claiming, “I hate skirts…I wear skirts when I go to church.” At the last minute she decided to change into a white gown, but her wardrobe choice showed just how much she valued normalcy. She once told a reporter, “The whole thing about this business is you can’t lose your sense of self.”
5. Aaliyah Had A 4.0 GPA In High School (1997)
Aaliyah always described herself as a perfectionist. Despite a burgeoning singing career, she graduated from the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts with a 4.0 GPA. She once spoke on her success in the classroom adding, “I was always a good student. I always wanted to maintain that, even in high school when I first started to travel. I wanted to keep that 4.0. Being in this industry, I don’t want kids to think ‘I can just sing and forget about school.’”
6. Eve’s “Gotta Man” Was Meant For Aaliyah (1998)
In our recent interview with super-producer Swizz Beatz, he let go of a surprising nugget of information. Almost no one knew the beat for Eve’s 1999 hit single “Gotta Man” was intended for Aaliyah. Swizz recalled that back when Aaliyah was working with Timbaland on her uncle’s Blackground Entertainment label, she reached out in hopes of working with him. However, their schedules and labels prevented the collaboration from happening. Rather than let the “Gotta Man” beat go to waste, Swizz put it in Eve’s hands because he was also working on her album at the time.
7. Aaliyah Was The Youngest Singer to Perform At The Oscars (1998)
A big moment in Aaliyah’s career came when her song “Journey to he Past, which appeared on the soundtrack toAnastasia, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The nomination was overshadowed by her performance of the song at the event. At 19-years-old, she became the youngest artist ever to perform at the Oscars.
8. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails Was Supposed To Produce A Song For Aaliyah (1999)
Aaliyah was once asked on an episode of MTV Stipped if she liked rock music, to which she replied, “[I] like rock and all kinds of music.” Specifically, the singer happened to be a big fan of Nine Inch Nails. In 1999 she reached out to Trent Reznor to produce a song on her last album. The two camps engaged in discussions before her death but, ultimately, scheduling conflicts prevented the collaboration from happening.
9. Aaliyah Almost Played Alex Munday In Charlie’s Angels (2000)
When the movie Charlie’s Angels came out in August of 2000, Aaliyah was 21. During casting for the reboot she was considered for the role of Alex Munday. However, the studio felt she was too young and the role went to Lucy Liu.
10. Aaliyah Was Originally Cast As Honey Daniels In Honey (2001)
With her outstanding dance skills and a couple of quality acting roles under her belt, Aaliyah was perfect for the lead role in the 2003 dance-film Honey. Casting directors thought the same thing, which is why the role of Honey Daniels was originally cast to the singer. After Aaliyah’s tragic and untimely death in August of 2001, the role was given to Jessica Alba.