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It's Been 20 Years Since R&B Singer Aaliyah Died In A Plane Crash

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Twenty years ago today, on August 25, 2001, a small Cessna plane crashed. It burst into flames shortly after takeoff from the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A breaking story out of the Bahamas tonight. Authorities have confirmed that R&B singer and actress Aaliyah is among eight people killed in a plane crash.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was 22. She'd been a star since her teenage debut, an album called "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THROW YOUR HANDS UP")

AALIYAH: (Singing) The time has finally come to save my beats with the funky hip-hop swing - the funky swing I might add - oh, check it.

INSKEEP: Her second album was "One In A Million," which was how many of her fans regarded her.

AISHA HARRIS, BYLINE: And that album and the song, the title song, have been pretty much considered at this point to be sort of a harbinger for all of the R&B sounds that we would get after that and today.

FADEL: That's Aisha Harris, the host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. She says Aaliyah's style can be found everywhere in today's R&B.

HARRIS: You can see her influence in everything from Drake to Syd to Normani. She had just this sort of effortless style, effortless cool.

INSKEEP: Aaliyah was known for her voice and her fashion and was moving into acting. The disgraced musician R. Kelly also briefly married her when she was underage. Though it was a short and eventful life, Harris says her talent endures.

HARRIS: I think there's a newfound respect for her. And I think now we're seeing a lot of people really begin to trace those influences that Aaliyah had back then onto what we're seeing now. And it's good to know that, like, even though her career and her life were cut short, it seems like people seem to appreciate her.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "4 PAGE LETTER")

AALIYAH: (Singing) I'm sending him a 4-page letter, and I enclosed it with a kiss... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.