The mother of Aaliyah, Diane Haughton, who is head of the late singer’s estate, reacted on Wednesday, Aug. 4, to plans by the star’s former record label Blackground Records to release her “unauthorized projects.” This initial statement came immediately after the revamped label, led by Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson, shared an “Aaliyah is coming” website on its official Instagram page weeks before the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah’s death.
Aaliyah was at the height of her career at 22 years old — after releasing three studio albums and starring in two films — when she was tragically killed alongside eight others on Aug. 25, 2001, in a plane crash in the Bahamas. The star initially went to the island to shoot scenes for her chart-topping single “Rock the Boat.” After the video’s completion, Aaliyah and her entourage left to return to the states when the crash occurred.
Aaliyah’s estate began their statement by saying that their sole focus has always been about protecting her “legacy.” “Protecting Aaliyah’s legacy is, and will always be, our focus. For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish. We have always been confused as to why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives.”
They added with the upcoming 20th anniversary since her untimely passing, they wanted to prevent “individuals” from instances of leeching off the singer’s “life’s work.”
“Now, in this 20th year, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without any transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness. Although we will continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully and justly, we want to preempt the inevitable attacks on our character by all the individuals who have emerged from the shadows to leech off of Aaliyah’s life’s work.”
The estate concluded its response with informing the public about other “creative projects that embody Aaliyah’s true essence,” like the Aaliyah Memorial Fund. The memorial fund was created to support the many organizations and charities that Aaliyah found important.”
Barry Hankerson co-founded Blackground Records in 1993 after signing Aaliyah. Following the singer’s death in 2001, Hankerson has still maintained ownership of her masters. Although it is unclear why Aaliyah’s music has been unavailable from all streaming platforms, her estate claimed earlier this year on the “Try Again” vocalist’s Twitter page that these legal “matters are not within our control.”
“We hear you and we see you. While we share your sentiments and desire to have Aaliyah’s music released, we must acknowledge that these matters are not within our control and, unfortunately, take time. Our inability to share Aaliyah’s music and artistry with the world has been as difficult for us as it has been for all of you.”