Soul singer Aaliyah became known in the music scene in 1994 for her sultry delivery, good looks and young age — she was only 14 when her debut LP became a hit.

Aaliyah Haughton was born Jan. 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, N.Y. The name Aaliyah is Swahili for “highest, most exalted one.”

She moved with her family to Detroit when she was 5. Aaliyah’s parents gave her vocal lessons and she began singing in church and school plays.

At age 9, Aaliyah began auditioning for record companies and television pilots. She sang on “Star Search” and even made an appearance with Gladys Knight in Las Vegas. Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, is Knight’s ex-husband and a show-business veteran.

Hankerson then introduced Aaliyah to his client, successful soul crooner R. Kelly, also a songwriter/producer. Kelly began working with Aaliyah in the studio.

Aaliyah’s first LP, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number (1994), yielded hits in the title track, “Back and Forth” and “Down With the Clique.” The success of the platinum LP also brought controversy when rumors circulated that Kelly and the underage Aaliyah were married. Whether the wedding ever took place is still disputed, but Aaliyah insists that she is not married.

Kelly wasn’t behind the scenes on Aaliyah’s sophomore effort, One in a Million (1996), which was produced by Timbaland and featured rapper Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. The LP’s first single, “If Your Girl Only Knew,” was a #1 R&B hit. The multiplatinum album also included the title ballad and “4 Page Letter.” Hip-hopper Treach was featured on “A Girl Like You” (RealAudio excerpt) and Slick Rick helped out on a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”

Aaliyah performed “Journey to the Past” from the soundtrack to “Anastasia” (1997) and sang the Oscar-nominated tune at the Academy Awards. Aaliyah also worked with Timbaland on the track “Are You That Somebody?” for the soundtrack to Eddie Murphy’s 1998 film “Dr. Dolittle.”

In 1997 Aaliyah graduated from the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts. She plans to attend college.

Last year she guested on the track “Final Warning/Interlude” from 100% Ginuwine, R&B singer Ginuwine’s second album. She also sang on Nas’ “You Won’t See Me Tonight” and Elliott’s Da Real World (1999).

Aaliyah has an acting role in the upcoming film “Romeo Must Die.” She also contributed “I Don’t Wanna” to the soundtrack to the recently released Ice Cube movie “Next Friday.”

This year Aaliyah will be featured on Toni Braxton’s next LP, and she plans to release her third album by spring.

— Source: MTV.com