He spent most of the '80s pitching unproduced screenplays and managing a gospel group, the Winans.It was only after a decade in the trenches that he found his next breakout star: Robert Sylvester Kelly, a Chicago train station busker. Kelly for the next 10 years and executive produced his first four albums.It’s not an artistic statement or a play for more money, and there’s no dedicated Aaliyah-only streaming service in the works.Instead, there’s a single, stubborn man, sitting on a catalog that includes almost all of her most famous work, as well as albums from Timbaland and Toni Braxton, and a trove of unreleased original material that’s never before been heard.”—aren’t available for streaming or sale on Spotify, i Tunes, Amazon, or any other online music service.Digital voids like these can result from legal battles over uncleared samples (as with De La Soul), or from musicians holding out for better royalty terms (the Beatles, until recently).By the early 1970s he was employed as a community organizer in the office of Coleman Young, the mayor of Detroit.It was there that he first met the singer Gladys Knight, who was scheduled to perform while working at a local fundraising benefit. The taciturn, serious Hankerson viewed Knight as a “pampered singer,” according to a January 1975 magazine cover story.
When they divorced in 1979, Hankerson abandoned Detroit politics for Los Angeles glamour.
For her debut, he paired her with Kelly, who produced and wrote most of the songs on , released in 1994.
The title track, written by Kelly, was a hit, but in retrospect, it was also a not-so-coded reference to their clandestine sexual relationship.
Aaliyah was 14 when the song was released; Kelly was 27.
On August 31, 1994, they were secretly married, with Aaliyah claiming to be 18 on the marriage certificate.
It has been 15 years since Aaliyah died in a plane crash, ending a life and career that were only beginning to realize their full potential.