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Experts say that when you experience an extremely emotional occurrence (whether good or bad,) you’re more likely to remember intricate details of that time period. I can attest to this fact, because I can tell you everything about any highly emotional day in my life, but probably won’t be able to tell you what I wore two days ago. Sad but true.

The same is the case for August 25th, 2001. I was about a week shy of my 13th birthday, it was a Saturday, and I was at home watching a Destiny’s Child video on MTV when Kurt Loder broke the news that Aaliyah‘s plane had crashed in the Bahamas. I refused to believe what I was hearing…that is until actual video of the crash site flashed across the screen. I was CRUSHED. At that point I hadn’t really experienced the loss of many loved ones, but Aaliyah’s passing hit me like a brick, hurting me in a way that at the time, I couldn’t explain. At church the next day…and at school on the day after that, the sentiments were similar from my peers. None of us had ever cried over the death of someone we didn’t know up until then…there was just something different.

That “something” was simply Aaliyah’s “it”. Exemplified in the warm spirit that resonated through her music and over the airwaves when she sat down for interviews. Or in the musical sound that was ahead of her time (the main reason why her material is still relevant today,) and a maturity beyond her years. At 22-years-old, she was just coming into her stardom…and that, perhaps, is what’s most hurtful; unrealized potential. To this day, people have “what if…” conversations about how she would have impacted the game had she still been alive today, but the truth of the matter is her presence is still felt, although she’s been gone for a decade. The mere fact that I’m writing this should be an indication. Her nuances and style have been adopted by many a female artist, and to this day… she is still regarded as one of the “baddest” chicks to ever grace the industry.

As the years have gone by, I’ve found a deeper appreciation for Aaliyah and the legacy she left in her music. When her material was new, I was just a little girl who loved music, but now as a young woman, I can identify with the conviction in the lyrics she sung, and the depth of emotion behind her airy soprano. Now the same age that she was when she died, I find motivation in her accomplishments, and strive daily to create a great legacy of my own, that will hopefully stand long after I’m gone. That inspiration is priceless.

In her MTV Diary, almost an eerie foreshadowing of what was to come, Aaliyah was asked how she wanted to be remembered after she was gone. Her response was simple.

“[I want to be remembered as] a good person and an all around great entertainer- some one who can do it all”

She accomplished that, and more.

And she’s still missed.

Here’s Aaliyah’s MTV Diary (Sidenote: I wish they would bring this show back) and one of my favorite songs of all time…that just happens to be by Aaliyah.

…And here’s a RARE clip of Aaliyah performing my one of my favorite songs ever… “I Don’t Wanna” in 2000 on TRL

MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT BET’S AALIYAH TRIBUTE TONIGHT AT 8/7c… FEATURING INTERVIEWS WITH DAMON DASH, MISSY ELLIOT, KELLY ROWLAND AND MORE.

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