Photo: SGranitz, WireImage
R&B pop darling Aaliyah would have turned 35 Thursday. The beloved singer, who scored a wealth of hits "Try Again," "Are You That Somebody," and "Rock The Boat," died tragically in a 2001 plane crash when returning from a video shoot in the Bahamas. She was just 22 years old.
The impact of her works has kept her memory alive, but a number of recording artists have also helped this cause.
While Drake, Chris Brown, The-Dream and Omarion have recorded various Aaliyah posthumous collabs and tributes, our list focuses on six women whose work reminds us of the icon.
1. Keshia Chante
Five years ago, this Canadian R&B singer and 106 & Park co-host was making headlines as the starlet who would portray Aaliyah in a biopic about the late singer. While Keshia did meet with a production company to discuss the role, the project was reportedly put on hold because Aaliyah's family was still in mourning. Keshia understands. She told CYInterview that she cried and stayed in bed for a week when Aaliyah died. She added that she grew up getting compared to Aaliyah. "In school, people would always say I looked like her and I never, I genuinely never tried to put an effort," she said. Last year, Keshia paid homage to Aaliyah by dressing up like her in a photo shoot with Matt Barnes.
2. Jordin Sparks
This Season Six "American Idol" winner had tough shoes to fill when she landed the title role in the film "Sparkle." The original 1976 version starred then-budding superstar Irene Cara, and a 1990s remake was set to feature Aaliyah in the lead. After Aaliyah's death, Whitney Houston, who was producing the film, put the project on hold indefinitely. While Raven-Symoné was reportedly cast to take the part, it was ultimately Jordin who would land the gig as the shy, talented singer-songwriter who performed with her sisters.
3. Keri Hilson
The "Pretty Girl Rock" singer doesn't look, sound or dance like Aaliyah, but there's still a special connection – Timbaland. The Virginia producer was grief-stricken by Aaliyah's tragic death. He not only lost a talented musical partner, but also a dear friend who he affectionately called Baby Girl. While Tim subsequently found success working on album projects with Ms. Jade and Nelly Furtado, it wasn't until he signed Keri to Mosley Music in 2006 that he found another, longstanding female protégé.
4. Lyric Da Queen
No wonder rapper Lyric Da Queen and Aaliyah shared the sexy tomboy look – beanies, long, straight hair, halter-tops and baggy jeans. They are both from Michigan. Aaliyah is from Detroit, and Lyric from Flint. Lyric's image was a big part of her appeal during her notable run on the second season of the U.S. version of "The X Factor."
Photos: Getty Images
5. Angel Haze
There are a couple things about Aaliyah's fellow Detroit native Angel Haze that remind us of the "Back and Forth" singer -- hair, slim, statuesque build, tank top couture, sunglasses and attitude. "The comparison is always there," the rapper who just dropped her debut album "Dirty Gold" told TMI After Dark. "I've always loved her. I love how sorta a princess she was but still so bad ass … But I'm not trying to be Aaliyah."
When it comes to swag, Aaliyah was unmatched. Her striking presence and cool, yet sensual dance moves made her one to watch in music videos and in big screen films "Romeo Must Die" and "Queen of the Damned." Ciara has a similar aura. On songs like "Promise," "Ride It," and "Body Party," the Atlanta-bred singer, who confirmed her pregnancy this week, scored pulsating slow jams with captivating accompanying dance videos.
- Arts & Entertainment