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Aaliyah's uncle: 'We saw no limits for Aaliyah'



(CNN) -- Fans across the United States continued to mourn singer Aaliyah's death in a plane crash Saturday. Aaliyah's uncle and CEO of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson, took some time to speak with CNN anchor Leon Harris Tuesday morning about his reaction.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities in the Bahamas say that they're going to looking into reports that the plane carrying singer Aaliyah may have been overloaded. The plane crashed in the Bahamas on Sunday, killing the singer, and eight others. Authorities say that they will consider all possibilities in trying to determine the cause of this crash. Aaliyah was a platinum selling Grammy-nominated singer with a promising film career on the horizon. She had also completed initial shooting for a sequel to the movie "The Matrix."

Now across the country, fans of Aaliyah are mourning her death. In Los Angeles, Monday, a crowd gathered for a candlelight vigil. And in Detroit, hundreds gathered outside Aaliyah's former high school for a vigil there to remember the 22-year-old singer. Some fans there people carried pictures of Aaliyah, and there posters scrawled with messages.

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Joining us now by phone from New York this morning is Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson. He is also CEO of Blackground Records.

And, Mr. Hankerson, we want to thank you for taking time to talk with us in what's got to be a difficult time for you, and we extend to you our condolences for all of this.

Let me ask you, first of all, your reaction to the pictures if you are seeing us right now, if you are watching us, the pictures from fans; reaction across the country. Have you been surprised by any of that?

BARRY HANKERSON, AALIYAH'S UNCLE: No, not really, because we are her record label, we are statistically very toned into the fan base, and it's very strong, it's very reactive to Aaliyah, and because she started so young, she was in that magic time when, you know, youngsters were reacting to role models and to certain types of songs and messages, and so she was creating that, that Madonnaesque and Janet (Jackson) kind of following from a young age. So it doesn't really surprise me.

HARRIS: So what is it about her, that you think that resonates with the Madonna-like phenomenon? What do you think it is that she had that nobody else had?

HANKERSON: She had this quiet kind of charisma. You know, the way she chose her songs. The way that she chose her performances in her videos were a bit understated, yet very pensive and very penetrating, and it was very remarkable that, in the very beginning, she had a way that she wanted to sound and a way that she wanted to look, and she stayed with it. She would be very adamant about those types of create decisions in a very young career.

HARRIS: I understand that Blackground Records is very much like a family operation?

HANKERSON: Yes, it is.

HARRIS: You've got to be devastated. What is this going to mean to Blackground Records?

I know, this morning, before you begin your answer, I spent the better part of this morning trying to get onto your Web site, and apparently you've got so much traffic there, we can't get in.

HANKERSON: No, it's been quite remarkable. Before the tragedy, our Web site is very well traveled for Aaliyah, and a couple of our other artists, Timbaland, and Magoo and Tank, who are also doing very substantially well, but Aaliyah was the queen of our label. She was the one that started our label off and believed in us as a label. And we have additional artists, but everybody's so devastated, I really can only tell you, we will try to regroup in our headquarters next week and try to ascertain where we are.

HARRIS: Let me ask you something else, more of a philosophical kind of question. You have seen in recent years, the continuing growth of the mystique of Tupac Shakur, do you see the same thing happening because of the circumstances of Aaliyah's death. Do you see the same thing happening with her and her legend from here on out?

HANKERSON: I think you know, that what's going to happen. I was just thinking this morning, waiting for you to call, that it does have a flair to it of the unfinished song, the unfinished play, the unfinished screenplay, where the whole, you know, the public at large wants to dream about what she could have done and how far she could have gone. ... Very, very few people, young people in America, (have) at that age 22 been nominated for Grammys, and major films and multiplatinum records. This year, on this album, internationally, we've already sold over a million units before the tragedy occurred, and she was beginning, we didn't know -- we saw no limits for Aaliyah.

HARRIS: Let me ask you this morning, Mr. Hankerson, because I know you can't speak about the investigation, I have to ask you this. You hear the reports this morning about those on the plane insisting that all of them go on board and that all of them carry all of their luggage. Does that sound like Aaliyah to you?

HANKERSON: No, I'll be very honest with you. I think we are going to again have a mystery regarding that flight, regarding how it happened, because that's the nature of our culture, is just to keep a mystery going and intrigue going. I think it's just a tragedy for nine people to meet their end, and I believe that we'll never really know, and I believe that it will always be a mystery to someone, somewhere. I think what we need focus on right now, nine families are heartbroken, and it really doesn't matter how it happened, because if we find out, it's not going to bring anybody back.

HARRIS: Barry Hankerson, thank you very much for taking time to talk with us in this very difficult hour. Our condolences to the loss of Aaliyah and your staff members there as well. Take care. Best of luck to you.







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