cover image Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah

Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah

Kathy Iandoli. Atria, $27 (322p) ISBN 978-1-982156-84-8

The short yet remarkable life of “R&B princess” Aaliyah is paid a moving tribute in this dazzling biography from journalist Iandoli (God Save the Queens). “Unlike other tragic deaths of young stars,” she writes, “we haven’t been given a clear, linear story about who Aaliyah was... and why she was so special.” Weaving together exclusive interviews and in-depth research, Iandoli succeeds in vividly capturing the artist whose work became a “fantastical silhouette that hangs over music.” Raised in Detroit, Aaliyah performed in concerts with her “Auntie,” singer Gladys Knight, before overcoming scandal and a sham marriage with musician R. Kelly, who produced her Double-Platinum album Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number in 1994. Though she was reluctant to include Kelly, Iandoli explains that disregarding him would rob Aaliyah of “another title she so greatly deserved: ‘survivor.’ ” After “elevat[ing] the entire genre” with her “airy vocals” alongside Timbaland and Missy Elliott on her second album, One in a Million, Aaliyah continued to impact pop culture, serving as a muse to designer Tommy Hilfiger, costarring in the 2000 film Romeo Must Die, and releasing her critically acclaimed third album, Aaliyah, all before dying in a plane crash at 22. Still, a decade later, Iandoli writes how fans “new and old... are keeping her legacy alive.” In highlighting her influential career, this promises to do the same. (Aug.)