img_5605-1I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was a rising Junior at Virginia State University and was headed back  to Petersburg, Va. In my little car. 103 Jamz is blasting as I head back to my favorite place (VSU) and the music stops. No sound comes out at all. The DJ announces that Aaliyah, R&B singer, had passed away in a tragic airplane accident. The day was the 25th of August 2001 and the sun seemed to go down in the middle of the day . My hands were sweaty as I gripped my steering wheel. Tears ran down my face … I picked up the phone and called my best friend… She didn’t answer.. So I cried alone as the DJ played “Rock The Boat”. I know what you thinking… Why am I crying? Do I know her? Is she my friend or maybe a family member? No absolutely not. But she was my dance partner , my homegirl I sung with and my long lost family member that had made her way to the top.

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See let me explain something to you, when Aaliyah’s first album dropped I was in 8th grade. In 1994, Back and Forth was the jam and there was a dance that went with it. I practiced and made sure I had the dance just like the video. (Don’t act like you didn’t) And as she grew up.. So did I. Her songs matured and so did I…. When she sung the words “When I feel what I feel , sometimes it’s hard to tell you so”… I understood.. I could relate at some level. Music speaks to the heart and the soul. So deeply that it guides you through things just as the bible does to many. I followed her climb to stardom and I cheered her on. I wanted my hair like hers and I wanted to dance just like her. I was young and inspired. As I have watched many interviews , she worked hard to get to where she was and before her death – she was just learning how to enjoy life. But her time was up.. Hard to understand to be honest with you. But God works on his time and on his plan. I will always and I mean always remember her for her music first and her tragic death last. Hopefully we can all live as she did .. Pushing hard and working hard until you get where you want to be. It often takes the death of someone to allow you to reflect. Today will always be a day of reflection for me.

She will live in spirit on many dance floors and thousands of radios across the world.. Rest in paradise Aaliyah.

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By Tasha Mack