One of the last hits from [artist id="852"]Aaliyah's[/artist] all-too-brief career was the track "More Than a Woman," released posthumously from her self-titled third LP.
The song and the video both showcased Aaliyah Dana Haughton, then 22, at her finest: flirty, reserved, sultry and, most importantly, it left listeners and viewers with a palpable sense that there was indeed more to come from this talented artist. Unfortunately, her life was tragically cut short when a plane carrying her and her entourage crashed shortly after takeoff. Her death — which occurred exactly eight years ago — still feels like it happened entirely too soon.
Ever since the Detroit singer and dancer debuted in 1994 with Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, we all watched Aaliyah blossom. Her initial look of dark sunglasses and baggy clothes evolved into a more adult look on her next album, One In a Million. She was always beautiful, but later as a young woman she exuded the kind of appeal that was as sexy as a whisper in your ear — so subtle that it never had to be overtly pointed out.
She also possessed the type of talent and charisma that led many to believe her future was as bright as a supernova.
"Aaliyah was one of the finest young women I have ever worked with. She was a consummate professional, an amazing talent with limitless potential and, most importantly, an exceptional person," Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who worked with the singer on the film "Romeo Must Die," said in a statement after her death. "Her passing is a huge loss to her many friends here at Warner Bros. and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to her family and to those who loved her as we did."
Her credits are easy to remember: three albums that were each certified double-platinum along with the aforementioned "Romeo Must Die," which helped to put her on Hollywood's map. Another film, "Queen of the Damned," was released after she passed.
Her legacy is slinkier — immense yet understated, just like her voice. Traces of it lie the way Ciara moved in the video for "Promise." It's there in [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna's[/artist] runway-fashion sense.
[artist id="1746119"]Keri Hilson's[/artist] around-the-way persona and Nicole Scherzinger's simmering sexuality share a debt to her. And the sense of what her career could have ultimately become is evident in [artist id="1236911"]Beyoncé's[/artist] multimedia presence.
During Aaliyah's rise, she and her contemporaries shared a number of similarities, most notably an affinity for going by just one name: Brandy, Monica, Mya, etc. All of them did well from the very beginning. Since then, of course, they've continued to experience success, but each with the usual ups and downs that fame tends to dish out. Aaliyah undoubtedly would have gone on to accomplish more.
But she always felt different, more mature than her age — and her ascent also felt more gradual and firm, and when she passed there was a sadness that resonated because she was set to soar.
"I'll be more than a lover, more than a woman," she sang. "I'm gonna be more. I don't think you're ready."
There truly was no way we could have been.