Barry Hankerson is the uncle of Aaliyah. He was married to Gladys Knight. The two played important roles in launching Aaliyah's career as the marriage was how she met Knight and was allowed to have many of her earliest performances. Hankerson would later say that he found Blackground Records strictly to help Aaliyah's career launch. Hankerson has two sons, Shanga-Ali Hankerson and Jomo Hankerson.