The singer and actress was 22 years old when the plane she was traveling on crashed soon after takeoff from the Bahamas on August 25, 2001, killing her and eight others aboard.
The fascination with Aaliyah and her music have not abated in the two decades since the world tragically lost her.
In some ways Aaliyah is more famous now than she was prior to her death.
Back then she was a multiplatinum recording artist just embarking on an acting career. She had starred in the 2000 action film “Romeo Must Die” and was scheduled for a role in one of “The Matrix” sequels.
We will never know the heights she may have further accomplished.
But for those who admire Aaliyah, Wednesday is about celebrating the woman known to friends, family and her audience as “Baby Girl.”
Her tragic death, coming hours after she completed filming the music video for her single “Rock the Boat” in which she floats in the ocean like an ethereal angel, left her fans grief stricken.
That sorrow still lingers for some.
“She had her own thing going and she was growing bigger and bigger at the time of her loss,” Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins of the group TLC recently told CNN of her fellow artist. “She had some swag, she had a fan base and she touched people as well. So she’s missed.”
“What she could have been,” he said. “The fact that she brought so much style and flair and flavor into hip hop and into R&B, then the fact that she was able to meander between those worlds seamlessly.”
Given how many artists have tried to emulate Aaliyah, often without given her proper credit, King said, he’s not surprised that a new generation of fans have gravitated to her music and want to know more about the singer.
“She was extremely relatable and I think that’s what this next generation is identifying with, the relatability,” he said. “That sort of tough girl, sweet girl mix.”
Writer Iandoli said the singer deserves acclaim, given her influence on the industry and ability to comfortably blend musical genres.
“You have something like trap soul now, or trap R&B, or even rappers who just sing over hip hop and electronic beats,” Iandoli said. “That all started with Aaliyah.”
That is part of what inspired her to write her book, she said.
“I felt like the world needed a book that detailed her beginnings and how for 20 years thereafter, she’s still a force,” Iandoli said.