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Requiem for Aaliyah


Note: Wes Simpson, a Metro Times reader from Detroit, sent us this drawing (left) in response to the recent tragic death of singer and actress Aaliyah, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in this city. In Simpson’s words, "This portrays the bird tattoo worn on the small of Aaliyah’s back being released from the fist of Joe Louis, symbolizing the people of Detroit."

The streets are singing, knowing we are that somebody, the city that, at our best, has been back and forth. Each time we’re down, we dust ourselves off and try again, until we find a resolution. A resilient town, Detroiters rock the boat like no one else. Changing positions. Working the middle. Because we know we’re one in a million. And Aaliyah Dana Haughton represented us better than most.

If the question is why do people die, the answer may be to make life important. We suffer the loss of a hometown girl who rocked that mythic Detroit determination on the world stage. We say she is gone too soon. We absorb the shock, call the radio stations and post condolences on Internet message boards. DJs weep on-air and dance to her catalog. And we pull together to heal.

In time, the shock ebbs and life continues. But our pride lives, boasting about her low, observant profile that always seemed to study the pack, then jump ahead and show it how to lead. That was so Detroit of her. Our fighting spirit will honor her confidence and loyalty. Our schools will know that they bred her, taught her much of what she knew and used. Her family will smile, knowing that a million Detroiters knew, loved and respected their daughter.

And we’ll learn to cherish what is dear while it is near. We’ll hug folks and tell them we love them. Not to cover lost time, but to chart the future. And we’ll lean on the pretty example with the old soul. That face that was as musical in its beauty as any Timbaland track. The lilting voice that never had to break a sweat or strain a vocal cord. The family affair that worked the "Blackground" to keep her visible. And the name that said it all.

Aaliyah. Peace. Hot & Bothered was written this week by Khary Kimani Turner and edited by George Tysh. E-mail them at

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