Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born on January 16, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York, and was the younger child of Diane and Michael "Miguel" Haughton (1951–2012). She was of African-American descent. Her name has been described as a female version of the Arabic "Ali", but the original Jewish name "Aliya (Hebrew: אליה)" is derived from the Hebrew word "aliyah (Hebrew: עלייה)", meaning "highest, most exalted one, the best. " The singer was highly fond of her Semitic name, calling it "beautiful" and asserting she was "very proud of it" and strove to live up to her name every day. Aaliyah's mother enrolled Aaliyah in voice lessons at an early age. She started performing at weddings, church choir and charity events. When Aaliyah was five years old, her family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she was raised along with her older brother, Rashad. She attended a Catholic school, Gesu Elementary, where in first grade she was cast in the stage play Annie, which inspired her to become an entertainer. In Detroit, her father began working in the warehouse business, one of his brother-in-law Barry Hankerson's widening interests. Her mother stayed home and raised Aaliyah and her brother.