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Remembering Aaliyah

MISSED: Aaliyah

GROWING UP in Rwanda, a French-speaking country, it was quite a while before I was introduced to Aaliyah's music.

It was in October 1994 when I first heard her sultry voice on debut single Back and Forth pumping through our small family radio. I instantly became a fan.

Despite my limited English at the time - if existent at all - I was struck by her unique style, dulcet tones great music. It's safe to say I was in awe.

I remember drawing parallels from the beautiful One in a Million as lamented on the first twinges of young love. Many of my friends did the same.

The singer, born Aaliyah Dana Haughton on January 16 1979, had the sweet girl next door vibe about her. Her mannerisms, beauty and charm, were striking, without being threatening to normal girls like me.

She was classy but could easily be hood without being tacky and nasty, a balance many female artists struggle with today.

It's been ten years today (Aug 25) since the beautiful 22-year-old perished in a plane crash in The Bahamas after shooting the video for Rock the Boat, and I can still remember the moment my mum informed my sister and I of the tragic news. Her death was so untimely - she was barely out of her teens.

To this day I still get teary when I watch the video, knowing each precious frame captured the last moments of her life.

I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss when I look at the state of today's music and the entertainment industry. Watching as scantily clad women (and men) desperately try and sell their music through sex is disheartening and I often find myself longing for the days of singers like Aaliyah - and even Monica and Brandy - who were not only singers and entertainers, but good role models.

I used to roll my eyes whenever my mum would use that "when I was younger" line to compare how civilised the past was, but as I get older, I find myself saying it more.

Ten years may have passed but Aaliyah's legacy is timeless.

You’re still dearly missed, baby girl.

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