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Aaliyah: More Than a Woman

Aaliyah: More Than a Woman

4.4 71
by Christopher John Farley

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Smart... sassy... sexy... stylish... sensational. Twenty-two-year-old Aaliyah was all of these and so much more -- an artist who infused sensitive R&B vocals with rugged hip-hop beats. She was instantly hailed by fans, critics, and peers alike as one of the brightest stars in the music industry, until her life was tragically cut short in a fatal plane crash in


Smart... sassy... sexy... stylish... sensational. Twenty-two-year-old Aaliyah was all of these and so much more -- an artist who infused sensitive R&B vocals with rugged hip-hop beats. She was instantly hailed by fans, critics, and peers alike as one of the brightest stars in the music industry, until her life was tragically cut short in a fatal plane crash in August 2001. A tribute and keepsake for her loyal fans everywhere, Aaliyah: More than a Woman celebrates the fascinating life of a talented young artist who shared her gift with millions -- a pop music treasure whose lasting impact will resonate for years to come.

About the Author

Christopher John Farley is a senior writer and music critic for Time magazine. His past interviews are a veritable who's-who of popular music, including Christina Aguliera, Dr. Dre, Bob Dylan, U2, Faith Hill, Bruce Springsteen, and Aretha Franklin.

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From the Publisher
Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child

Aaliyah was an angel.

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San Val
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4.42(w) x 6.72(h) x 0.77(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Rock the Boat

She was always a hard worker. Always. That was just her.

-- Timbaland, Aaliyah's longtime producer

The weather said nothing.

It was another perfect day on Abaco, a tiny island in the Bahamas about 200 miles northeast of Miami. The weather was warm, the sky was smiling and so was Aaliyah. She had every reason to be happy. The young singer's new album, the self-titled Aaliyah, was a hit. It had debuted high on the Billboard charts and had received rave reviews from the likes of TIME, Spin, and Vibe magazines. The veteran music publication Rolling Stone had given the new CD four stars, declaring that "on Aaliyah, a near-flawless declaration of strength and independence, she ups the ante for herself and her contemporaries -- as well as her musical heroes. Aaliyah is Control, Velvet Rope, and Jagged Little Pill all rolled into one."

Aaliyah had other reasons to be happy as well. Recently, she had secretly become engaged to Damon Dash, the co-CEO of Roc-a-Fella records, a leading hip-hop label and the home to Jay-Z and a number of other top rappers. The pair had refused to comment on their relationship to the press, but it was an open secret among their friends and close fans. Dash and Aaliyah were often seen out on the town, sometimes in Harlem, sometimes in the Hamptons, always smiling, laughing, clearly enjoying one another's company. Their engagement wasn't formal -- few things are in the hip-hop world -- but Dash planned on marrying his new sweetheart as soon as time opened up in her busy schedule for them to do it up right. Meanwhile, they were living the life, having a good time: the newest prince and princess of hip-hop nightlife.

Aaliyah's schedule, however, was punishing. She had long ago set her sights on being a total entertainer -- a star of both concert stages and movie screens -- and the commitment required sacrifice. She was now working hard to make sure her new album had a long shelf life and had come to the Bahamas to film a video for her latest single, a song titled "Rock the Boat." Filming for the video kicked off in Miami on August 22nd, and it required some difficult underwater shots. After that part of the shoot, Aaliyah and about a dozen of her associates flew down to the Bahamas to complete the project.

It was a loose-knit, jovial group. Everybody was working hard, but everyone was having a good time. Gina Smith, 30, born in Fort Worth, Texas but living in New Jersey, had recently come on board Team Aaliyah as product manager for Aaliyah's label, Blackground Records. Aaliyah had called Smith herself when she got the job, which entailed living, breathing, and sleeping Aaliyah's music and making sure it got a deserving amount of publicity from the press and attention from radio stations. Smith worked in New York, but never lost her southern courtliness.

Then there was Eric Foreman, 29, of Hollywood, who was Aaliyah's hairstylist. He was known as a funny man, the kind of guy that kept everybody laughing; the kind of guy who, one wild night in Atlanta, climbed up on stage at a club and performed his own all-in-fun, improptu strip tease that was, by one report, far more entertaining that anything else on stage that evening.

There was also makeup artist Christopher Maldonado, 32, of New York. He wasn't the regular makeup guy, but he was best friends with Aaliyah's makeup artist who, while tied up in Europe with Macy Gray, had dispatched his pal Maldonado to fill his slot. Maldonado was the opposite of Foreman: He was laid back and calm, always collected, never excited, taking life as it comes. He liked to party as much as the next guy, but he was always cool about it.

Protecting Aaliyah was her 6-foot 8-inch, 300-pound bodyguard Scott Gallin, 41, of Pompano Beach, Florida. Gallin was a big guy, but was, by all accounts, a friendly and caring one as well. He was a divorced dad who had custody of his 15-year-old son, Lyle, to whom he was devoted. He had worked as a bouncer in various joints around South Florida, but he was an aspiring actor as well, and had appeared in small roles in the movies Any Given Sunday and Holy Man. As a bodyguard he was in high demand -- Ricky Martin, Madonna, and Rosie O'Donnell had used his services in the past. He was the kind of full-service, beyond-the-call-of-duty bodyguard who, if the client was out of town, would call up the client's spouse, just to make sure they were okay. Right now he was totally focused on his current employer, Aaliyah. Nothing bad would happen to her as long as he could help it.

So with that cast of characters, the shoot was bound to be a good time. What's not to enjoy about being in the Bahamas on a beautiful day? What's not to love about dancing on a 72-foot catamaran as it glides through clear Caribbean waters? You can feel the joy when you see scenes of the video: Aaliyah's on a beach, the ocean stretched out behind her; Aaliyah wearing a sexy red top, and dancing slyly, suggestively, playfully before the cameras. "It was a fun shoot," said Annie Russell, a local taxi operator who organized a squad of drivers to assist the video crew. "Everybody in that group was getting along fine, like they loved one another." The first day Aaliyah arrived, she and Gallin asked Russell where they could rent some motorscooters. Clearly work and play were going to mix on this trip.

The video was helmed by one of the best directors in the business: Hype Williams. When you wanted a hit video, when you wanted a clip that the suburbs would groove to but the streets would respect, you signed up Hype. In the past, Williams had worked with Busta Rhymes, the Notorious B.I.G., and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott. That video with Missy Elliott in the puffy costume? ("Supa Dupa Fly [The Rain]" if you don't know). That's Hype. That video with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in the shiny suit? ("Been Around the World"). That's Hype.

Work started that day around 10 A.M. The video went off like any other. Lots of stops and starts. Lots of makeup touch-ups. Lots of adjustments to the lighting. Aaliyah never complained. That wasn't her style. "Lots of people in this business are hard to work with," says one publicist who worked with Aaliyah. "She's always professional. She's always, what do you need me to do, how can I help. She never takes a star trip. She's an angel. She's like an angel sent down to earth." That day, Aaliyah was in nearly all of the shots: after all, it was her video. But instead of retiring to her cabin after her scene, she would stay and watch the other shots, observing the process and supporting everyone else.

Around 2 P.M. everyone broke for lunch. Around 5 P.M. they were all done. Aaliyah washed off her makeup and prepared to leave. She signed a few autographs and then got into a cab. "Bye! See you all later!" she cheerfully called out to Russell and a few of the others who had come to say their farewells.

And why shouldn't she have been happy? She had work to do, but it was work she loved. She had commitments to keep back in the States, but she was looking forward to keeping them. She had cool music in the works, including a collaboration with hip-hop/folk star Beck called "I Am Music" that her longtime creative partner, Timbaland, was producing. Her movie career was taking off. She had recently finished filming The Queen of the Damned, a movie based on the Anne Rice novel. The big screen adaptation starred Aaliyah as the title character, an ancient -- but eternally youthful -- vampire. She had also signed on to star in not just one, but two sequels to the action franchise The Matrix. She was set to take some martial arts training and then fly down to Australia to begin filming.

But even before that she had a date with MTV. She was going to be a presenter at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards. It was the party everyone wanted to be at -- U2, OutKast, No Doubt, Nelly, Janet Jackson, they were all scheduled to be there. Aaliyah just wanted to get back to Florida and then New York City so she could hook up with Dash, chill for a little bit, and then start doing the things she needed to do. The first order of business, however, was to get off Abaco and out of the Bahamas. She'd had a good time, but now it was time to roll.

Aaliyah, along with Maldonado, Smith, Foreman, Gallin, three other passengers, and the pilot, Luis Morales III, boarded a twin-engine Cessna 402B.

The plane rolled down the runway.

It was Saturday, August 25, 2001.

It was a warm day. The sky was smiling.

Disaster was moments away.

The weather said nothing.

Copyright © 2001 by Christopher John Farley

Meet the Author

Christopher John Farley, a graduate of Harvard University, is the music critic for Time magazine, and interviewed Aaliyah shortly before the accident that claimed her life. He is also the author of the novel My Favorite War. He lives in New York City.

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Aaliyah: More Than a Woman 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
spongebobqueen More than 1 year ago
This month we continue to do book report so its book number 3. This time i read a biography on Aaliyah. Writen by a man name Christopher John Farley. This book was picked out by my reading teacher she was a very good help to me. since its a biography i would have to say its not really a main character in dis book but on the other hand i can say Aaliyah is. Aaliyah was a hip hop singer, singing was something she loved to do. one day she had to go to the bahamas and shot her video no one new it would be her last video, after the video was shot she was ready to get back home to her family on the way back she was killed in a plane crash she was only 22 years old. i could relate to it cause when i was told she was dead it really effect my life cause i looked up to her. it was good book and would recomended anybody that is or was a fan of Aaliyah to read this book it was perfect length. and i gave it a 5 star rating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still today i will always love aaliyah she had an amazing voice even if she wasnt here today she will always be in our hearts.with her music we can celebrate with her music. R.I.P Aaliyah From yoada zeleke
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tht is a great book it says everything in there we miss u aliyah
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aaliyah you might be gone but you will never be forgotten. Love you baby girl. Rest easy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though i was not born when she luve i wass sad she died on the year i was bon when i have a self progect right away i want to do it on aaliyh i just love when i clean i llve listening to her bye babygirl your one of a kind and nobody should for get her rip your truly more than a women you showed girlls could do music better than boys ca so i respevt her for as long as i live i hope when i die i will see the angel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Aaliyah's music but this book is simply boring and seems like the author spends more time talking about other artists in comparison to her, rather than just focusing on her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are blocked we can go to the next res
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love aaliyah she my idol she inspire me to do things :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That r. Kelly married her when she was 15? Ew
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome i love aaliyah and wish she was still alive
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We miss u BABYGURL!!!!!! We will have u in our hearts always. U are THE BEST!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaliyah:More than a Women,written by Christopher John Farley,tells about the life of Aaliyah from when she first started acting and singing until her tragic death on August 25,2001.This book really tells the reader about Aaliyah's determination to become the best that she could be, and the way she strived to reach to the top .It explains about how she went to a school of the performing arts, and how she started acting when she was in the first grade in a production of Annie, and she would rehearse three hours a day, four days a week.Also the book tells how Aaliyah went to from a singer to an actress. The book also has quotes and stories,and memories about Aaliyah from many famous actors, producers, video and movie directors, music artists, and family members. I would recommend this book to Aaliyah fans. But I would also recommend this book to people who never thought about reading about Aaliyah because her life is really interesting. The only thing that I did not like about this book was that the author sometimes went off topic. The book is about Aaliyah, but he also started writing about other people, and subjects that didn't have anything to do with Aaliyah. But, besides that the book was pretty good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book that I was reading is called Aaliyah more than a woman, by Christopher Farley. This book is about Aaliyah throughout her young childhood to her untimely death. Aaliyah was a shy and quite girl from Detroit, Michigan and went to a Catholic school Gesu Elementary. After school she would work on her acting and singing, she was very involved with the theater productions around her town. She got a shot to go on the hit show back then Star Search, but she lost but soon got discovered and worked on her first CD for her unique sound. Later she went on and made more CDs and soon did some movies; her last on was called Queened of the Damned before her untimely passing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about hip hop artist. I liked this book because I read stuff about her that I didn¿t know she did. It is a very easy reading book and were knowledgeable. I also liked how in the beginning of each chapter there would be a little quote from artist who knew her and what they loved about her. Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who misses a fallen angel Aaliyah
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a good book, but it wasn't anything special. If u're a fan of Aaliyah, like i am, u will enjoy...But if this is the last of ur money don't waste it on this book, this is a book compiled of a bunch of facts that r common knowledge to a fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaliyah was truely an angel on earth and will be missed. Her legecy will continue through-out the years.She was a very determined, beautiful, talented,and positive, person. Thats one of the reasons she was my role model and will continue to be! Like DMX said "it's hard to except the fact that your(Aaliyah) gone,so I won't". She'll forever be in my heart,R.I.P. Aliyah Dana Haughton.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaliyah was my hero i know all her songs and when i was little i wish i could grow up just like her she is my heart and her music the one i gave my heart to that cheered me up cuz i lost my father when i was 8 yrs old and i heard her song and then it got me thinking maybe it was his time but it was not aaliyah time cuz she still had a whole life ahead of her and just what to said no matter what happen to u you will always be alive in my heart but to tell you the truth i do not think that she is died it is just to hard to believe something like that and it hurt me so much to think that she is gone and now music won't never be the same without her cuz they really need her but when i grow up i what to become a singer so i can be like aaliyah and write a song about her
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was cool,street but sweet and a little of a drag.well this writer just doesn't know aaliyah the way her blood family and extended family does so if He/she decides to write about aaliyah understand her the way we do the family in general! yeah also i know every female said they can play aaliyah's life.... me i really think so well to her mom god bless you and rashad Dont worry aaliyah loves you two very much; how do i know well she came to me in my dream and expressed her feelings through her quite body language etc.(sept.01) P.S. I did not intend to disrespect aaliyah's family trust me and that I deeply love her R.I.P. BABY GIRL
Guest More than 1 year ago
I will simply say that there are too many words to describe the wonderful Aaliyah. I will just say that she was a great person and her spirit will always live in every single one of our hearts!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was good but it should of focus more on Aaliyah instead of all the other Artists and what they were doing.The but still is good. The Epilogue was the part that made me cry. Please go ahead and read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book wasnt great, as said, the author constantly lost focus and difted into irrelevant things, or began to go into long discussion of other artists. It did contain some interesting things tho, like his interveiw with her. I will buy nething dealing w/ babygirl, however i wasnt all that satisfyied w/ this book. I still reccomend buying it tho.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a long-time fan of Aaliyah, I was disappointed with the context of this book. I found that the writer went off in tangents and lost his focus. (He mentioned Lauryn Hill one too many times) I got a glimpse of what her life was like before she passed, but I wish he would have stayed on the topic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It reminds me of my role model,and why I love and miss her so much. It lets you know if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. The book shows you what a beautiful person she was. Anything about Aaliyah I'll buy and this book is a must have. If your a true fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just happenned to finish ¨More Than A Woman¨ last night, the day before the 1 year anniversary of Aaliyah´s death. I find it hard to be a critic towards a book that is about a person whom I have great love and admiration for, I think we all feel this way. Any new things that we may find out about Aaliyah is like finding a pearl in the ocean. I think that if we are to write about such a precious individual, we must treat a book about her as just that. I enjoyed reading the book because of Aaliyah, but was quite disappointed in the change of focus, which occurred quite often throughout the book. Too many facts about other subjects clouded what the book was really about. Mr. Farley´s work is appreciated though. We need a book about Aaliyah with more than 5 pictures, HARDCOVER to have for life in rememberance, and maybe some more time and effort venturing into who Aaliyah really was, an Angel. RIP Baby Gurl, One Love.