Keyshia Cole, Monica, SWV, Ciara & More Female Singers Talk Aaliyah's Influence
Aaliyah's impact transcends further than the hip-hop and R&B realm. From style to the effortless harmony of sensuality and vulnerability, close to ten years from her passing Aaliyah's infuence is still present.
In remembrance of Aaliyah, Billboard.com's The Juice we asked twelve notable female R&B acts to share their thoughts and memories of the missed singer.
"When I found out that she [had] past that night, I just cried [while] on the tour bus. That's amazing for someone to have that affect on other people's lives.I think why it affected me so much without me knowing her is because she seemed to have a beautiful soul. [There was] something about her spirit. She connected before reality TV, before any of that happened in our era. It was something about her that made you connect to her. She seemed like she had a beautiful soul."
"I loved seeing her on MTV Diary when she was playing around with her hair and makeup people. They were just having fun, laughing and trying on wigs. It showed she didn't take herself too seriously, she had fun.
Every girl in my school and every sexually confused young man knew the choreography to "Are You That Somebody" after like the third time they had seen the video. It went that hard. The long skirt with the two slits became the thing. "Are You That Somebody" is a big one for me, the whole era was amazing for me."
"The first time I met her, she was extremely quiet. You [weren't] going to get a lot of words out of Aaliyah in a first meeting. It takes a lot of time for her to warm up to people overall because she had this shyness. I remember her being shocked at things I would say out loud, whether it was in interviews or when we were hanging out. She would always be gasping for air at some of the things that I would say out loud. Whenever I was around, if I saw something, whatever it was, she would just be in shock like, 'I can't believe you just said that out loud.'
I think it's good for people to know the side of her outside of the music and know that her music was a great reflection of her. Sometimes people are totally different than the image they represent, but what I love about her is that everything that you saw was really her. When the lights and the cameras were off, that same pleasant, mild mannered, sweet personality, that's just how she was. She loved to laugh. Jokes with her and Missy [Elliott] were beyond what people imagine. Missy is definitely the ultimate jokester. I've never seen her in the type of turmoil and pain that she was in after Aaliyah passed because there's no replacing the type of love and friendship that her and Missy had. It was the type of closeness where even when I see Missy today I always feel like something is missing from her and that is definitely Aaliyah."
"I could see so much of myself in her because she had this tomboy, tough-girl image but at the same time she was very soft and feminine. Her vocals were very light but at the same time her lyrics were so engaging. They always touch your soul. Aaliyah just had this magic combination, everything that most women aspire to be, that softness but still strength. The way that she lost her life, it was shocking. It almost feels like it would only be something like that that could take someone like Aaliyah away from us because she was so strong."
"We actually had a chance to hang out with Aaliyah after a show in Japan back in 1996. Aaliyah came to see one of our shows while out there promoting her album. She also came by to the hotel after the show to hang out. She was sweet, warm, very friendly, and just a down to earth person. Aaliyah was such an incredible talent. Her death was such a shock to all of us but we know her music will forever live on! Her voice is definitely missed!"
"I think she was just finding herself when she died. She was just coming into her own. She wasn't like this young girl anymore. She was a woman. She was finding herself and she died right when she was reaching the top. Aaliyah had this really soft voice. It was soft but strong. And she was beautiful. You just wanted to be her, she was so likeable. The guys probably wanted to be with her her and the girls wanted to be like her.
I think "Rock The Boat" was very revolutionary for when it came out because that song was such a mood song, it was so real. It was like she was riding a rhythm and a beat. It was like an old school Motown song, you could break it down. I don't think people make music like that anymore, it's so inspiring."
Reporting by Erika Ramirez, Erica Thompson, and Jon Blistein