Timed, coincidentally or not, to the start of the R. Kelly trial, the New York music magazine The Fader has published its annual "icon issue," with this year's cover story paying homage to Brooklyn-born, Detroit-raised Aaliyah Dana Haughton.
Aaliyah, you will recall, took the music world by storm in the spring of 1994 with her debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number," produced and written by Kelly. The Sun-Times has reported that on Aug. 31, 1994, the two were married at the Sheraton Gateway Suites in Rosemont by the Rev. Nathan J. Edmond of Chicago, when Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah was 15, though a falsified marriage license put her age at 18.
Aaliyah's outraged family quickly separated the couple, and the marriage was annulled in Detroit within weeks. Until her death in August 2001, Aaliyah only rarely spoke of the wedding in public, and never confirmed a relationship with Kelly.
The Fader story traces the impact Aaliyah made on the music world during her short but influential career, and it includes comments from artists such as Mark Ronson, Ciara, Method Man, Beth Dittof the Gossp and Chicago rapper Kid Sister. "It only took Aaliyah a few albums to make an indelible mark on the world of pop music, but today her influence can be felt across numerous genres," said Fader editor Chris Richards. "This issue not only tracks that influence, but also offers a more personal glimpse into the life of a true pop visionary."
Here are some of the tributes to Aaliyah from the magazine:
Missy Elliott: "We was gonna save the world. We was gonna change music every chance we got. We was gonna always be family. Forever."
Mark Ronson: "If it wasn't for Aaliyah being the face and voice of [Missy Elliott and Timbaland's] sound they might have never got to where they did. They were presenting their sort of brilliant but challenging breakthrough music through this beautiful young girl who could sing it perfectly."
Kidada Jones: "I think about her all the time...Anytime she's brought up or her music comes on the radio, it's sweet, but it definitely sounds like she found a niche before it was here. If you listen to her music it's so relevant today, but we had it so long ago."
Damon Dash: "She was already a fashion icon, she was getting into movies, she had already planted that seed. If she was alive today she would be so relevant. I see little bits of her everywhere I look, in a lot of artists."
Jomo Hankerson (son of former Kelly manager Barry Hankerson): "I think a lot of that mysteriousness they talk about was just what she was. She seemed like she came here already grown up, from the beginning."