Aaliyah Dana Haughton — better known simply as Aaliyah — helped redefine R&B in the ’90s and early 2000s with her mix of old-school and new-school sound and her effortless cool vibe. She continues to inspire and influence music, fashion and culture, decades after her untimely death in an August 2001 plane crash. She is the subject of Superstar: Aaliyah, an ABC News one-hour special that follows her life, music and enduring legacy.

The special explores Aaliyah’s career as a chart-topping musician, actress (she co-starred in 2000’s Romeo Must Die and 2002’s Queen of the Damned) and fashion trendsetter. The program sheds light on the circumstances of her underage marriage to R. Kelly, who has since been convicted as a sex offender. The special also focuses on how Aaliyah’s relevance continues as a new generation experiences her music decades later.

The program features exclusive interviews with those who were close to Aaliyah, including music executive Damon Dash, her former boyfriend; Barry Hankerson, her uncle; and recording engineer and producer Jimmy Douglass, who worked with Aaliyah in the studio. ABC News also has exclusive interviews with recording artists who cite Aaliyah as an influence, including Justine Skye, Sevyn Streeter, and will.i.am. There are also exclusive interviews with fashion designers Karl Kani, who describes what it was like to style Aaliyah, and designer and stylist Aleali May, who reflects on Aaliyah as an enduring sartorial muse. Additionally, Beasley Media’s own Tune Up Man from 105.9 KISS FM in Detroit was interviewed for the special.  He told us that he interviewed Aaliyah a number of times, starting in the early ’90s. “She was a superstar in the making. You could just feel in her spirit she would do big things.”

He added, “Her clothing style has inspired several artists that came after her. She was just a special talent. Her confidence, focus, and swag was really impressive to witness.” But, he noted, “The interview brought back some great memories… and sad ones also, most definitely.” Superstar: Aaliyah airs Wednesday, June 14 (10:00-11:00 pm ET), on ABC. It will be available to stream the next day on Hulu.


6 Ways Aaliyah Influenced Pop Culture

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