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Birth Date: 1/16/1979

Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York

Profession: Actress and Songstress

Nationality: American

BIOGRAPHY Brooklyn-born and Detroit-raised R&B singer Aaliyah hit the big time in her early teens with a spate of hit records before she embarked at the ripe old age of twenty on a film acting career. A losing appearance on "Star Search" at age eleven failed to hold back the young dynamo, who performed later that same year with Gladys Knight (former wife of her uncle/manager Barry Hankerton), singing with the legend for a five night Las Vegas engagement in 1990. Within four years, Aaliyah would have two gold singles to her credit and was a proven multitalented performer, starring in compelling music videos that showcased her dance moves as well as her songs. As her debut album "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" headed up the charts on the strength of the hits "Back and Forth" and "At Your Best (You Are Love)", Aaliyah, whose sultry voice and adult image belied her tender age, found herself the target of some less-than-positive attention when it was reported the then-fifteen-year-old had wed friend and producer R. Kelly (a man over ten years her senior). A marriage license issued in the state of Illinois with the pair's name on it and Kelly's refusal to comment only fueled the fires of scandal, and the two were unceremoniously booed at that year's Soul Train Music Awards.

Following this upheaval, Aaliyah changed record labels, hooked up with producers Jermaine Dupri and Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott and recorded her follow up, the successful and critically lauded "One in a Million" (1996). The album introduced the singer's new, more mature sound and focused on her undeniable talent and range, fusing hip-hop beats with R&B grooves in a way that harkened back to a younger Mary J Blige. Although Aaliyah was managed by her parents, the teen singer's videos and appearances were marked by a non-overt sexuality that she carried with easy confidence. Remarkably, her sensual image was altogether natural, where such attempts at more adult fare by contemporaries like Brandy smacked of forced Lolita-like precociousness. In 1997, Aaliyah contributed her vocals to the animated feature "Anastasia", singing the Oscar-nominated theme "Journey to the Past" over the end credits, and subsequently on the Academy Awards telecast in March 1998. Her performance of that same song on a 1997 episode of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" so impressed producers of the then-developing Broadway musical "Aida" that she was invited to audition. While Aaliyah didn't land that stage role, film would continue to offer her hit-making opportunities; she scored with the Grammy-nominated "Are You That Somebody?" from the "Dr. Dolittle" soundtrack in 1998.

Aaliyah's next film project "Romeo Must Die" (2000) not only featured her hit song "Try Again", but marked the singer's film acting debut. She starred opposite Jet Li in this modern day multicultural crime world reworking of Shakespeare's tragic romance. She played Trish O'Day, daughter of an African-American crime lord (Delroy Lindo) at odds with a rival Chinese gang whose allies include the vengeance-bent Jet Li. Soon Aaliyah and Jet Li's characters fall in love, much to the disapproval of their warring families. Aaliyah brought a crucial toughness and quiet grace to her role, making an auspicious film debut in this music-infused actioner. Her relatively mysterious real-life persona (routinely dodging age questions and nearly always donning sunglasses) made her transition to the screen all the more seamless, allowing the public to readily believe her portrayals, where an artist with a more realized personality would be less credible.