It's been 16 years since superstar singer Aaliyah died in a plane crash, and those who knew and worked with her continue to share fond memories of their time with the star affectionately dubbed "Baby Girl."

In an interview with TheGrio, R&B singer Tank remembered how starstruck he was when he met the Aaliyah in the studio. In 1997, an up-and-coming Tank toured with Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Ginuwine. It was Ginuwine, Tank's future bandmate in TGT, who introduced him to Aaliyah, who would eventually ask Tank to sing backup for her.

“She walks in the room and I’m like, ‘Man…’,” Tank tells TheGrio‘s Gerren Keith Gaynor. “I’m fighting the tears…I’m like: ‘That’s Aaliyah right there.”

Describing Aaliyah as “not just beautiful, but really cool," Tank recalled going to lunch with her and losing his train of thought during a round of the game "Questions." He was captivated by Aaliyah’s beauty.

“I remember she asked me a question and I was so caught up in looking at her that I was like (starts talking gibberish),” he recalled jokingly. “Everyone in the room is laughing and I’m like what do you want me to do?! Aaliyah is asking me a question!”

The singer went to say that Aaliyah forged a path that many female artists have sought to follow in the years since.

"She was in essence the prototype of what, you know, a lot of these, a lot of female artists want to be," Tank explained. "They want to be a makeup model. They want to be a hair model. They want to be a movie star. They want to be an artist. They want to be a dancer you know what I’m saying? They want to be a fashionista. Like they want to be all these things at a high level and that was Aaliyah. That’s kind of where that started. And so there are a lot of, there is so much of Aaliyah living on to this day, to where everybody is like ‘it’s not broke.’ That formula is not broke. The idea of wanting to be all of these things is what every woman should aspire to be, and that’s the Aaliyah blueprint. And it helps that her personality was so angelic. It helps that she was just, she didn’t wear it on her shoulder how much she had and that she was willing to offer it to others. It helps."

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