Aaliyah’s music played in the background as hundreds gathered in Detroit last night (Aug. 27) near her former high school for a candlelight vigil to remember the singer killed in a plane crash. As previously reported, the 22-year-old R&B singer/actress and eight others were killed when their small plane went down after it took off from the Bahamas on Saturday.
“She was such a role model to teen-age girls,” said Marisha Lane, 15, of Detroit, adding that she admired Aaliyah’s positive attitude and generous spirit.
During the vigil, fans scrawled messages to the singer on posters and cards spread on the ground near Detroit High School of Fine and Performing Arts, which Aaliyah attended. Some held pictures of Aaliyah; others brought flowers, stuffed animals, and balloons.
“I just felt like I needed to be a part of this. To cry together, to remember together and to sing together,” Demetrice Greene-Luckey, 27, said, wiping her eyes. “It hurts even for a lot of people that don’t know her personally, because we can relate to her and we admire her spirit.”
Aaliyah earned two Grammy nominations, a platinum album. and several high-profile movie roles. Born in New York and raised in Detroit, Aaliyah — whose name in Arabic means “powerful one” — had deep roots in the R&B community.
Rapper DMX, who had a role in Aaliyah’s feature film debut, “Romeo Must Die,” said in a statement, “Talented, classy, warm, beautiful, compassionate (and) humble best describes my memories of Aaliyah, a down-to-earth sister with enough energy to put anyone on a cloud. How unfortunate.”
R&B superstar R. Kelly produced the first of Aaliyah’s three albums. His record label, Jive, released a statement saying, “R. Kelly is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Aaliyah. His thoughts and prayers are with her family during their time of grief.”
R&B vocalist Gladys Knight, who was married to Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson, said in a statement, “From an early age, I knew she had enormous talents, an intrinsic gift. She brought joy to my heart, and I felt blessed to encourage and support her professionally and personally as she strove for each new goal. Her star had just begun to shine so brightly. Though she was ours for only a short time, what a time it was. I love Aaliyah, and I will miss her for the rest of my life.”
Aaliyah was a nominee at this year’s Lady of Soul Awards, which will be taped Tuesday in Los Angeles for syndicated broadcast on Saturday. The show’s producer, Don Cornelius, said the mood would be more somber because of her death. “You are going to hear a lot of tributes to Aaliyah, and rightfully so,” he told the syndicated television show “Extra.” “She was so very special.”
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