Aaliyah, whose last name was Haughton, was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised mostly in Detroit, Michigan. She died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22.
Aaliyah was Roman Catholic: she attended a Catholic school growing up, went to church, and she credited God with giving her talent.
She also turned to God for guidance during her short career:
I meditate a lot and try to think good thoughts all the time. I like to remember that God is in my heart and leading me the way through any setbacks I might have and at the same time giving me guidance in my career.
As would be expected, her funeral took place at a Roman Catholic church.
We don’t know a lot about Aaliyah’s political beliefs. She performed at a White House Christmas celebration in 1998 for Bill and Hillary Clinton, and she had nice things to say about the President:
[I]t was really great to perform for [President Clinton] because he really loves music. And you can see the passion in his eyes as he’s watching you.
That’s hardly an endorsement of the Democratic party, but we know she didn’t hate the guy at least.
Her unique style could be seen as something of a statement on women’s rights–or at least a woman’s image. Aaliyah often wore baggy pants instead of glamorous dresses in her videos, making her look more like a street thug than an R&B sex symbol. Not that she didn’t spend plenty of time looking womanly and sexy, she just didn’t think her sexuality should define her as a performer.
I don’t wear things that are ridiculously short or low cut. I feel that your talent should do the talking not a revealing outfit.
Aaliyah’s nontraditional attire not only influenced other women artists who came after her, but it was affirming for “young urban girls” who had a role model in the singer–someone who dressed like them instead of like Hollywood.