Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah

Atria. Aug. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781982156848. $27. MUSIC
Iandoli (God Save the Queens) writes a heartfelt love letter to Aaliyah (1979–2001) in time for the 20th anniversary of the singer’s death. The engaging narrative follows the life of Aaliyah Dana Haughton, starting with her birth in Brooklyn and childhood in Detroit, where her music career was launched by her uncle, record producer Barry Hankerson. Drawing on interviews and primary sources, Iandoli sensitively details how Aaliyah was abused by R. Kelly, her former mentor and producer of her 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. The well-written, fast-paced chapters come alive when recounting Aaliyah’s efforts to find producers for her second album, One in a Million (1996), which led to influential collaborations with Missy Elliott and Timbaland. Iandoli covers the unexpected success of Aaliyah’s song “Are You That Somebody?,” her iconic partnership with Tommy Hilfiger, her move into acting, and her self-titled third and final album, which was released in 2001. The author also carefully traces the last day of Aaliyah’s life, when she and members of her crew died in a plane crash in the Bahamas.
VERDICT Combining the passion of a longtime admirer with the investigative skills of a journalist, Iandoli pays homage to Aaliyah with a work that will delight fans.
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