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Aaliyah Dana Haughton was an American actress, singer, dancer and model. She was born on January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn, New York to Diane and Michael Haughton. Enrolled in voice lessons by her mother at a very young age, Aaliyah soon began performing at weddings, the church choir and various charity events. Her love of performing for an audience was further enhanced after she acted in a school stage play. Her parents supported her choices and encouraged her to sing and perform. She was close to her family members including her cousin Jomo and her grandmother, who died when the singer was 12 years old. Her uncle was married to the singer Gladys Knight, who took Aaliyah with her to New York to audition for commercials and television programs.

Aaliyah was a conscientious student and maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school, despite the increasing demands on her time from her career. She felt that gaining a good education was important, and if her singing and acting career didn’t pan out like she wanted, she would open up a school for teaching drama or music history. She was subjected to some bullying and teasing at school because of her small stature but claimed that it didn’t bother her and only made her drive to succeed stronger. At the age of 12, she was signed to her uncle’s record label named Jive Records. He introduced her to the singer and producer R. Kelly who became her mentor and produced her debut album titled “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” which was released when she was 14 years old. The song “Back & Forth” from the album topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for three weeks and the title track “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” reached No. 75 on the Hot 100 charts. The album itself debuted at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart, later reaching No. 18 and selling over 3 million copies in the U.S. It generally received positive reviews from critics.

In 1996, Aaliyah signed with Atlantic Records and released her second studio album titled “One in a Million” from which the song “If Your Girl Only