R&B fans likely tuned in to Lifetime on Saturday night to catch the network's original movie “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.” The biopic, produced by Wendy Williams ("The Wendy Williams Show"), chronicled the life of R&B singer Aaliyah from her early childhood success and debut album with R. Kelly, to her death at 22 in a 2001 plane crash.
The biopic starred Alexandra Ship as Aaliyah, Sterling Jarvis and Rachael Crawford as her parents, Michael and Diane Haughton and Lyriq Bent as her uncle and manager Barry Hankerson. The film also featured Cle Bennett as R. Kelly, Chattrisse, Dolabaille as Missy Elliot, Izaak Smith as Timbaland, and Anthony Grant as Damon Dash.
Check out 11 things we learned about Aaliyah from Lifetime's “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B" (note these are observations from the movie and not biographical facts):
1. Aaliyah first gained attention by appearing on “Star Search” in 1989. As a result of this appearance she was able to get a record deal via her uncle and manager, Barry Hankerson.
2. Aaliyah received some words of wisdom from none other than Gladys Knight during a weeklong stint on Knight’s tour in Las Vegas. The legend gave the young singer a confidence boost, telling her to “love the stage.”
3. Aaliyah became “Aaliyah,” going by her first name only, at a concert at the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts when her grandmother suggested “the simpler the name, the better.”
4. Barry Hankerson had to push R. Kelly to producer Aaliyah’s album, making him promise to listen to her sing before he turned her down. After hearing a young Aaliyah, Kelly was sold.
5. R. Kelly gave Aaliyah more of an edge in her sounds, which made her stand out from other R&B artists at the time as her debut album went platinum. Kelly also was a mentor to Aaliyah early in her career.
6. Aaliyah chose her famous street clothes image herself after rejecting the glam outfits the studio chose for her to wear.
7. Aaliyah’s grandmother gave the singer a ring that her grandmother’s mother had passed down to her grandmother. Aaliyah’s grandmother had the ring for 50 years before giving it to Aaliyah at the start of her granddaughter’s career.
8. While recording her debut album, Aaliyah and R. Kelly became romantically entangled behind her family’s back. The couple hid their relationship from the press, but when they married (when Aaliyah was only 15), her family found out. They forced an annulment under threat of calling the police on Kelly.
9. Aaliyah hand picked Timbaland and Missy Elliot to producer her second album. Despite the studio’s protests for someone more established, she insisted on the upstart duo and they helped keep her sound fresh and groundbreaking.
10. Aaliyah sang at the Oscars in 1998, trying to impress Hollywood and land roles in mainstream movies (as opposed to just “urban” movies). The performance earned her a lot of good will and she got a part in the two “Matrix” sequels.
11. Aaliyah developed a close romantic relationship with Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash. The two understood each other and were planning a future together before her death.
12. Aaliyah was killed during a plane crash in 2001 while shooting a music video in the Bahamas.
What did you think of “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B?” Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.