Aaliyah’s Life and Music Career Explored in New ABC Special

New details about the life and career of late entertainment superstar Aaliyah are being revealed in an upcoming ABC News special.

The TV special, titled “Superstar: Aaliyah,” comes almost 22 years after the tragic passing of the signer and actress.

The trailer for the hour-long special dropped on June 5, teasing a first look at who all will be lending their voice to this latest telling of Aaliyah’s story.

Included in the trailer are Aaliyah’s uncle and former manger, Barry Hankerson, and her ex-boyfriend Damon Dash — who she was dating at the time of her death. Sevyn Streeter, Touré, and recording engineer and producer Jimmy Douglass are also featured in interview segments.

There has been backlash to the series from some Aaliyah fans, largely because part of the special focuses on the late singer’s marriage to R. Kelly. Previous Aaliyah film and documentary projects have faced similar critiques over the often exploitative tone of their coverage of R. Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah.

Issues have also been raised over these projects typically being completed without any input or sign off from Aaliyah’s estate, which has remained elusive since the singer’s passing in August 2001.

Estate’s Complaints

Back in 2021, Aaliyah’s estate raised issues over the release of her catalog to music streamers.

In a statement thorough its attorney, the estate said it was unaware that the music would be released on streaming outlets. The statement was seemingly directed at Aaliyah’s former manager Hankerson, who is the brother of Aaliyah’s mother Diane Haughton. He was also the founder of Aaliyah’s record label, Blackground Records.

“For almost 20 years, Blackground has failed to account to the Estate with any regularity in accordance with her recording contracts. In addition, the Estate was not made aware of the impending release of the catalog until after the deal was complete and plans were in place. The Estate has demanded that Blackground provide a full account of its past earnings, and full disclosure of the terms of its new deal to distribute Aaliyah’s long embargoed music,” the statement read.

The estate also released a statement on Twitter calling out the release of “unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish” the singer’s legacy. 

“Superstar: Aaliyah” airs on Wednesday, June 14 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. It will be available to stream on Hulu on June 15.

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