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Sunday, 26 August, 2001, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Aaliyah: A rising star lost
Aaliyah poses for a photo on 9 May 2001
Aaliyah: About to become a big star
Radio 1 R&B expert Derren Lawford told BBC News Online that Aaliyah was about to become a huge star

"Aaliyah was young, she was good-looking, she was already quite a star, and she was on the verge of becoming a household name," says Derren.

She broke onto the scene age 14 in 1994 with her album Age Ain't Nothing But A Number and the best-selling single Back and Forth. And she never looked back.

I can't believe Aaliyah has died...She was so full of talent and so young

Aaliyah fan
For R&B fans, said Derren Lawford, she was something new.

"I vividly remember hearing her the first time, she had this massive tune, and everyone was asking who is this? What is she about?"

Aaliyah was always a different kind of singer, using more computer generated music than more traditional R&B musicians.

Great voice

Her musical talent and choice of the right people to work with ensured the 22-year-old from Detroit was anything but average, according to Derren.

"She had a great voice, it's hard to describe, soft and light."

Her fans believe she would have been a huge star
From the start she had a loyal underground following, and working with the producers of the moment meant her music shone through.

She was discovered by hip-hop producer R. Kelly, who had a very hands-on role in the album's production.

This time of her life remains a bit vague, Derren Lawford said, mainly because of allegations that Aaliyah, then under-age, had actually married R. Kelly.

But continued success meant she could push ahead with her career - working with people like producer Timbaland and singer Missy Elliott.

Acting career

Aaliyah had also begun a film career.

Last year, she starred in Romeo Must Die, a modern-day martial arts version of Romeo and Juliet, for which she also recorded the soundtrack.

She definitely had a future

Derren Lawford
"It seems she was trying to crossover and aiming to be known both as a singer and an actress," Derren Lawford said.

She had performances planned in two films, Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned and two sequels to the hit movie, The Matrix.

And in a sign that she continued taking her music seriously, last year she received a Grammy nomination for best female R&B vocalist with her single Try Again.

"She definitely had a future," said Derren Lawford. "She had young fans who had grown up with her."

And it seems those fans are finding it hard to take in news of her death.

"I can't believe that Aaliyah has died. It is such a shock. She was so full of talent and so young," reads one message sent to the BBC Radio 1 message board.

See also:

26 Aug 01 | Americas
R&B's Aaliyah dies in plane crash
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