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At the age of 10, she appeared on the television show Star Search and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight.At age 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground Records. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number.Aaliyah stated that she thought of her grandmother whenever she fell into depression.

Jomo walked Aaliyah and Rashad to their home from school when their mother was not able to pick them up and recalled the Haughton household being filled with music.Throughout her life, she had a good relationship with her brother, which traced back to their childhood as Rashad reflected that growing up with Aaliyah was "amazing".He recalled her running around their home singing and that never being annoying due to her having a "beautiful voice".On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the single "Rock the Boat".The pilot, Luis Morales III, was unlicensed at the time of the accident and toxicology tests revealed that he had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system.