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Ashanti (singer)

Background information
Ashanti Shequoyia Douglas
Shany, Shan, Princess
October 13, 1980 (1980-10-13) (age 26)
Glen Cove, New York, United States
R&B, Hip-Hop Soul, Pop, Hip pop
Singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, model, fashion designer
Murder Inc./Universal Motown Records
7 Aurelius, Fat Joe, Irv Gotti, Lloyd, Nelly, Ja Rule

Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas (born October 13, 1980), better known as Ashanti, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, model and fashion designer who rose to fame in the early 2000s.

She is most famous for her eponymous grammy award winning debut album Ashanti which featured the hit song "Foolish", and sold a record-breaking 503,000 copies (gold) in its first week of release in the USA in April 2002. In the same week, she became the first female performer to simultaneously hold the top two places on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with "Foolish", and "What's Luv" (with Fat Joe). She broke records again by having three Top Ten songs (Foolish, What's Luv, and Always on Time (with Ja Rule)) on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the same week, being the first female to accomplish this feat and being second only to The Beatles. Ironically, Ashanti wrote and sang background on the song "Ain't It Funny" (Murder Remix) sung by Jennifer Lopez which was also in the top 10 charts at the same time as "Foolish", "Always on Time" (with Ja Rule), and "What's Luv" (with Fat Joe). In 2002, she was acclaimed as the "Princess of Hip Hop and R&B." By 2007 Ashanti had sold more than 7 million albums in the U.S., and more than 12 million albums worldwide.

Ashanti cites Mary J. Blige, Ella Fitzgerald, and Blue Magic as her musical influences. She is currently working on her fourth studio album entitled The Declaration, which is due out in October of 2007. Ashanti will also appear in the Sci-Fi horror thriller "Resident Evil: Extinction" as a fire powered Florence Nightingale named Nurse Betty.


Early life

Ashanti was born in Glen Cove, New York. She was born to an African American/dominican mother and a African American/Chinese father. She inherited a love of music from her mother Tina, a former dance teacher, and her father Thomas, a former singer. Her mother named her after the former Empire of Ashanti in Ghana. In this nation, the women had power and influence, and Ashanti's mother wanted her daughter to follow that model. Her grandfather, James, was a civil-rights activist who associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1960s. Growing up, Ashanti took dance lessons and joined the church choir. Ashanti went to Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center where she studied different dance styles including tap, jazz, ballet, African, modern, and hip hop. She danced with the Senior Pro Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Black Spectrum Theater. She also performed at the 1994 Caribbean Awards and dancing with Judith Jamison of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. With actress and choreographer Debbie Allen at the helm, Ashanti also performed in the Disney television film Polly alongside stars Keshia Knight Pulliam and Phylicia Rashad. Ashanti displayed a knack for singing when she was six by singing in a gospel choir but her mother discovered her full singing potential when she overheard Ashanti singing Mary J. Blige's "Reminisce" to herself at age twelve. By the time she hit puberty, her mom was sending out demo tapes of her daughter's vocal and dancing talents. The family couldn't afford to go to a studio and record a formal demo so when labels called, Ashanti would have to sing and dance in front of the record company executives. Her love of music continued to rise as she attended high school and began to write songs. As a teenager, she performed in a local talent show and at the Soul Cafe, China Club, Madison Square Garden, Caroline's Comedy Club and Greek Fest 2000. In her first major singing performance, Ashanti blew the Apollo Theater audience away with her rendition of Yolanda Adams's "More than a Melody." She also appeared in a number of big-name music videos, in addition to other dance work.

Early career

When Ashanti was fourteen, there was a bidding war going on for her by Jive Records, EMI and Bad Boy Records. Initially, she went to Bad Boy Records and sang one of Mary J. Blige's songs in front of P.Diddy and Biggie Smalls. After being impressed by her singing ability, Diddy then challenged her character. He pulled out a bottle and told her it was his new fragrance, which he loved. After one sniff, Ashanti exclaimed, "Oh pew, it stinks. I hate it!" Diddy just started laughing stating it was just a test to judge her character. In the end, due to a bad contract, Ashanti didn't sign with Diddy. This ultimately led to a record deal with Jive Records in 1994. Unfortunately, this relationship soured when Jive tried to make the soulful singing teen into a run-of-the-mill pop star.

Ashanti regrouped by throwing herself into schoolwork, cheerleading, and running on her school's track team. She was an honor student in English and belonged to the English club where she began writing poetry. She was also in the Drama club and performed in a few plays. However, her skills in the 100- and 200-meter dash as well as the triple jump, her specialty reaching as far as 35 feet , earned her athletic scholarships to Princeton & Hampton University. But she put college pursuits aside when Epic Records came calling with a contract in 1998. However, the label's management changes quickly left Ashanti out in the cold. Undaunted, she continued to croon at local New York clubs and began hanging out at the Murder Inc. recording studio, hoping for another big break.

Irv Gotti and Murder Inc.

It was when she was noticed by Murder Inc. mastermind Irv Gotti that Ashanti began to blossom. Gotti noted her dancing and acting abilities in addition to her vocal skills. In 2001, Ashanti was first featured as a background vocalist on rapper Big Pun's song "How We Roll". In the same year, Ashanti was featured on fellow labelmate Cadillac Tah's singles "Pov City Anthem" and "Just Like a Thug". She also appeared on the 2001 The Fast and the Furious soundtrack as a featured artist on Vita's 2001 hip hop remake of Madonna's "Justify My Love" and on the solo track "When a Man Does Wrong". She appeared as a background vocalist on "I'm Real" (Murder remix), a collaboration by labelmate Ja Rule and Jennifer Lopez (she also appeared in the music video for "Aint It Funny" (Murder remix), the second duet between Lopez and Rule, for which she also sang background vocals on), and was featured on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?" and Ja Rule's "Always on Time". "What's Luv?" and "Always on Time" were released simultaneously and became two of the biggest hit songs of 2002. Ashanti became the first female to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart when "Always on Time" and "What's Luv?" were number one and number two respectively.

Debut album: Ashanti

Following the success of her collaborations with Ja Rule and Fat Joe, Ashanti released her debut single, "Foolish", which contained a sample of the 1983 song "Stay With Me" by DeBarge (also utilized by The Notorious B.I.G. in his 1995 hit "One More Chance"). This is her biggest song to date, spending 10 weeks atop of the billboard hot 100. She became the second artist (after The Beatles) to have their first three chart entries in the top ten of the Hot 100 simultaneously. Ashanti's self-titled debut album, Ashanti, was released on Irv Gotti's Murder Inc. record label in April 12, 2002. It debuted at number-one on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart, and stayed there for 3 weeks, selling over 503,000 copies in its first week (the most successful first week sales for a debut female artist). The album has been certified 3x platinum in the U.S and platinum (300,000 copies) in the UK. The album has sold over 6.5 million copies worldwide. Ashanti penned all 12 songs on the album, most written on the spot in the studio.

Ashanti's follow-up singles, "Happy" and "Baby", were not as successful as her debut single but did peak in the top ten and top twenty in the U.S. respectively. During the summer of 2002, Ashanti appeared on Ja Rule's "Down 4 U" with labelmates, female rappers Vita and Charli Baltimore. The song appeared on a Murder Inc. compilation titled Irv Gotti Presents The Inc. Ashanti's debut album earned her many awards including eight Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards, and a Grammy Award.

However, the most prestigious award she won in 2002 was also the most controversial. When it was announced that Ashanti would receive the Soul Train Aretha Franklin Award for "Entertainer of the Year" a high school boy in California took offense and started an on-line petition against her. He explained to The Seattle Times that she was too new to deserve the award and "she lacks stage presence in the majority of her performances." Nearly 30,000 people agreed with him, signing the petition. Many pointed out that established artists such as Mary J. Blige and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot or critically acclaimed singers like Alicia Keys and India Arie were more deserving of an award that carries the name of a musical legend. Despite the petition, the Soul Train committee and Don Cornelius stuck by their decision and Ashanti. Ashanti was applauded by her musical peers as she entered the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to accept her award and she was supported onstage by legendary singer Patti LaBelle who stated "she's a baby and we have to support our babies."

In September 2002, Ashanti and her sister Kenashia appeared on the first DisneyMania cd, which was released under Walt Disney Records. The album featured contemporary Disney classics. Ashanti & her sister sang "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney movie Pocahontas. The album was considered a commercial success, achieving Gold certification in February 2003.

Ashanti's global appeal became very apparent, as FHM credited her as the "Sexiest Woman in Music" in 2002. In 2003, Ja Rule and Ashanti collaborated on another hit song, "Mesmerize." Its music video was a parody of a scene from the film Grease.

Chapter II

In July 2003, Ashanti released her second album Chapter II. It debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 326,000 in the U.S. According to Billboard magazine, the album has been certified Platinum (1.5 million copies) in the U.S. and Gold (100,000 copies) in the UK. Chapter II's first single, "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)", became a hit, peaking at number-two on the Billboard Hot 100. Its steamy video, which showed Ashanti in a bikini frolicking on a beach and riding an elephant named Bubbles, was nominated for two 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. A remix of the song contained interpolations of Michael Jackson's "Rock with You".

The second single, "Rain on Me," reached the top ten of the Hot 100. In the "Rain on Me" mini-movie music video directed by Hype Williams and co-starring Larenz Tate, Ashanti portrays a troubled young woman in an abusive relationship. Ashanti's powerful song and lyrics combined with William's visuals to impart the power and horror of the cycle of domestic violence. Ashanti partnered with LidRock to distribute this mini-movie using LidRock's unique platform. This promotion, in conjunction with heavy rotation on MTV, BET, and other music video programs, has brought this film and her cause to the attention of millions of fans. It has also helped to raise money for the cause with proceeds from the $5 mini-disc going toward helping to stop domestic violence.

The album has sold over three million copies worldwide. Ashanti was scheduled to join Mariah Carey on her "Charmbracelet" US tour but due to schedule issues she was the opening act for R.Kelly's five-date tour in summer 2003 instead.

In May 2003, Ashanti appeared on VH1 Divas and performed her single "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)." She also participated in duets with Stevie Wonder (who later gave her the nickname Little Libra) performing "Do I Do," and the Isley Brothers performing "That Lady".

Ashanti's Christmas

In November 2003, Douglas' Christmas album, Ashanti's Christmas was released. The album contained almost an equal amount of original songs to Christmas standards. With only the support of a Christmas Melody music video, the album debuted and peaked at number 160 on The Billboard 200 and number 43 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart selling just around 100,000 copies by the end of 2003. The promotional Christmas Melody music video continues to be a staple of VH1 Soul and MTV Hits whenever the Holiday season begins.

Concrete Rose

In 2004, Ashanti was invited back to perform at VH1's Divas 2004. She appeared on stage with Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Jessica Simpson, and others. She performed Diana Ross' smash hit "I'm Coming Out", and she performed a soulful rendition of Chaka Khan's funk driven hit "Ain't Nobody."

Later that year, Ashanti appeared on three collaborations. "Southside," with male R&B newcomer and labelmate Lloyd, was released as his debut single and was a moderate hit. "Wonderful" with Ja Rule and R.Kelly peaked at number five in the U.S and at number one in the U.K. "Jimmy Choo" with rapper Shyne was another modest hit reaching number 55 on the billboard Hot R&B songs chart.

Alongside artist such as Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige, Eve, Brandy, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Missy Elliott, and many others, Ashanti participated in a cover of the classic "Wake Up Everybody" in support of ACT, the left-leaning political action committee.

On December 14, 2004, Ashanti released her third studio album, Concrete Rose. The album debuted at number seven in the U.S with first week sales of 245,000, making this her first studio CD to not debut at number one. The first single, "Only U," reached thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and became her biggest hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at number two. Exactly one month after its release, the album was certified platinum and the single "Only U" was certified Gold In March 2005. In Mid March, Ashanti released her second and final single from the album entitled "Don't Let Them". Although Ashanti was praised by critiques for improved vocals on this solid ballad, she didn't garner much fan support after Def Jam refused to pay for the video for the fan favored and original second single, "Don't Leave Me Alone" due to Irv Gotti's legal troubles with his money laundering trial. The singer came out of pocket to deliver the second single and video to her fans, thus Gotti stepping up to become the clip's director. The single was only released in the U.S., where it failed to chart, and the UK, reaching the Number 35 in the first week, but soon disappeared off the U.K. charts.

Also, for a limited time after the release of Concrete Rose, Ashanti released the DVD Ashanti: The Making Of A Star. This deluxe DVD includes exclusive photo and video shoot footage, music from her multi-platinum albums Ashanti, Chapter II plus Concrete Rose, special concert footage, unreleased childhood school performances and behind-the-scenes interviews with family, friends, and fans. The DVD was also repackaged along with Coach Carter.

Collectables by Ashanti

On December 6, 2005, Ashanti released a remix album of Concrete Rose titled Collectables by Ashanti. The album features six remixes of previously released tracks and four newly recorded songs, including the single "Still on It", which featured rappers Paul Wall and Method Man. The album, was only an opportunity for her to fulfill her contract with Def Jam (and have the option of working with another label), managing to debut at #59 on the Billboard 200.

The Declaration

With this album, I'm taking the lead with everything. I'm steering my own ship. I'm doing everything on my own.

Ashanti's next album has been confirmed by an interview with Billboard Magazine as being entitled The Declaration. This will be Ashanti's fourth studio album. Ashanti says her new album represents her sense of freedom at this stage in her career. "I'm steering my own ship and taking the lead on everything. You can definitely hear the growth; I'm working with producers I've never worked with before." Those producers include Polow Da Don, and Babyface. In past interviews, Ashanti, as well as HUFF Events & PR, the firm responsible for Douglas' promotional work, have confirmed that the singer has also worked with producers Pharrell Williams, Dr. Dre, Swizz Beats, Ron "Neff-U" Feemstar and L.T. Hutton as well as collaborated with fellow singer Robin Thicke, and rappers Nelly & Snoop Dogg for the new album. In January 2007, a buzz track leaked called "You Can't Deny It", featuring Jim Jones as did a feature with longtime collaborator and producer 7 Aurelius titled "My Number Babe", which is scheduled to be on the producers' debut cd entitled Channel 7. On June 28, the album's first single entitled Switch Featuring Nelly leaked onto the internet. Early reviews for the track rate from extremely positive to mediocre as result of Ashanti's struggle to regain street credibility. The Declaration is due October 23rd.

In April 2007, Irv Gotti appeared in an interview with DJ FlexMaster Flex and addressed the fact that Ashanti has ventured out and acquired producers and collaborations primarily outside The Inc. for the first time by saying, "she's having her little Janet Jackson "Control" moment. Every artist has their moment when they feel they need to take over their own music. This is hers."

Ashanti is currently featured on a new song by R&B group Jagged Edge entitled "Put a Little." It will be the first single on Jagged Edge's new album Baby Making Project. The video will be shot by director Ray Kay around the week of July 17, 2007. Jagged Edge is currently looking for girl video dancers with acting ability. 'Put A Little Umph In it' is currently #66 on the Hip-Hop/R&B Billboard charts.

Acting career

Ashanti got her first taste of acting as a child extra in the Spike Lee directed movies Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington & Who's Da Man. She also started as a dancer in the Disney TV film Polly.

After success with her music career, Ashanti ventured back into acting and in 2004, she appeared in the English-language Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice, in which she sang "My Lips are Waiting" and "Touch My Body'. Ashanti's appearance in the film was meant as homage to a tradition in Bollywood films where a celebrity would make a cameo appearance to sing a song that has no direct involvement in the plot. The rest of the characters do not interact with the celebrity but are seen in the crowd enjoying the show.

In January 2005, she made her feature film acting debut in the film Coach Carter alongside Samuel L. Jackson. She played a pregnant teenager named Kyra who has to decide whether or not to abort her unborn child. The movie opened at number-one at the U.S. box office, eventually grossing $70 million in the U.S. Later in 2005, Ashanti beat out Hilary Duff and Jessica Simpson to star as Dorothy Gale in the made-for-television film The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, which pulled in nearly 8 million viewers.

In 2006, she starred in the teen comedy John Tucker Must Die, which opened and peaked at #3 at the U.S. box office (competing with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Miami Vice) and grossed $67,989,780 million worldwide. Ashanti played Heather, the head cheerleader who participates in a vengeful scheme against John Tucker, her unfaithful boyfriend and the school's biggest heartthrob.

In 2007, Ashanti will appear in the Sci-Fi horror thriller "Resident Evil: Extinction" as a fire powered Florence Nightingale named Nurse Betty. There are many rumors circulating about Ashanti's upcoming movie roles. One rumor is that she will work with Quentin Tarantino (who had a cameo in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz) to revive the 70's show Get Christie Love as a film. The second rumor is that she is among the tops picks to star as Eartha Kitt in a biopic. Let's not forget on and off again movie Sparkle which will star yours truly Ashanti in the lead role. In an interview Ashanti stated: "I can't say too much about them because we haven't signed on the dotted line, but there are a lot of interesting irons in the fire," she says. "Hopefully, by the next conversation, we'll be talking about the next two flicks."

Other activities

In addition to singing, Ashanti has emerged as a songwriter penning songs for Christina Milian, Ja Rule, Jennifer Lopez, Nas, Toni Braxton, & many more. She released a book of poetry titled Foolish/Unfoolish Reflections on Love in 2002 and a fragrance, "Precious Jewel by Ashanti," in October 2005. In 2005, she signed an exclusive deal with MUDD to promote their brand of jeans titled "Delicious Curves." In early 2006, she released "Ashanti's OPC-3 Beauty Blend," a nutritional supplement. Ashanti also has a clothing line in Europe for teenage girls titled "Princess."

On May 2, 2002 Ashanti received the key to the city of Glen Cove, New York (her hometown), and the day was named Ashanti Day; Ashanti also received a key to the city of Atlantic City, New Jersey (she was crowned princess of hip hop and R&B).

Ashanti is set to showcase her style in a book, titled Ashanti Style, which will be published in late 2007. The book, which is being touted as Ashanti's "life and style guide" will offer fans a behind-the-scenes look into her style, both in her personal and professional life. Ashanti Style will be published by Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Disney's Hyperion Books for Children. Another venture Ashanti has enlisted in is her own handbags and pocketbook to be revealed in 2007.


In 2003, Ashanti partnered LidRock and the San Francisco-based Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to distribute the "Rain On Me" mini-movie using LidRock’s unique platform. Proceeds from the $5 mini-disc went towards helping to stop domestic violence. Ashanti also recorded a public service announcement that appeared in more than 4,000 film screens and reached millions of people. Ashanti also gives back by raising money for sickle cell research and she is active in helping the Make-A-Wish Foundation stating, "I’ll go and do just about anything for them." In 2005, Ashanti helped by recording public service announcement and raising money for the Southeast Asia tsunami disaster. Later that year she helped raise money for the Hurricane Katrina victims and storm evacuees.

Legal dispute

In July 2005, record producer Genard Parker claimed Ashanti owed him money for records that never were completed or distributed. A New York court heard Parker's claims and ordered her to pay Parker $636,000. But as the court stated no time records were ever produced. Parker is claiming over $2.3 million, while Ashanti's lawyers, say Parker never delivered any records and no records were ever distributed. In late 2005 a judge later rejected most of the award, ruling that there were not sufficient facts to determine the proper amount of damages. The case went to court on September 17th, but was dropped in light of each party voluntarily dropping pending lawsuits against each other.

Identity theft

In May 2007, Ashanti and Nia Long were discovered to be just two of several other people defrauded by Henrietta, New York couple Charles Curry, Jr. and Shameika Drain Curry. To defraud Ashanti, whose MusicFest appearance helped set an attendance record, the couple allegedly ordered a replacement driver's license in her name from the state Department of Motor Vehicles in August 2006 and claimed she had moved from Nassau County to Wilkins Street in Rochester, New York, the complaint alleged. When they received the new ID, Shameika reportedly impersonated the singer to purchase a 2003 Infiniti and secure a $36,789 loan from M&T Bank. The bank has since seized the car and Ashanti has filed an affidavit "stating that she was the victim of identity theft and did not give anyone permission to use her personal information to obtain credit and/or financial loans in her name," court documents said.

In another incident, Shameika also impersonated Nia Long to write a check for upwards of $8,000 to Shameika’s cleaning service. The couple also was also receiving mail at their residence in Mariah Carey’s name, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether or not they had attempted to defraud her as well.

As of June 2007, Shameika was allowed to remain free on her own bond after turning herself in to U.S. Marshals pending her arraignment while her husband Charles had to secure his own release by posting up his home and his parents' home as collateral as ordered by a judge. Charles, according to, told the judge that he hasn't worked for their cleaning business since February due to an auto accident, but records shows that he recently purchased a home in Greece for $315,000 on April 3. If convicted, the couple faces a $1 million fine and a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

Personal life

Since mid-2003, Ashanti has been dating Nelly, but she has denied reports that they were engaged.



  • Bride and Prejudice (2004)
  • Coach Carter (2005)
  • John Tucker Must Die (2006)
  • Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
  • You're Nobody till Somebody Kills You (2007)


  • American Dreams (2002)
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (2002)
  • The Proud Family (voice) (2003)
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer (2003)
  • Pepsi Smash (2003)
  • Punk'd (2004)
  • Oxygen: Custom Concert (2004)
  • The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)
  • Las Vegas (TV series) (2005)
  • All That (2005)
  • Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball (2006)


For full information including chart positions and singles, please see Ashanti discography.


  • 2002: Ashanti
  • 2003: Chapter II
  • 2003: Ashanti's Christmas
  • 2004: Concrete Rose
  • 2005: Collectables by Ashanti
  • 2007: The Declaration


  • 2005: Can't Stop


  • 2004: Ashanti: The Making of a Star


Main article: Ashanti Douglas awards and achievements

Grammy Awards

  • Career wins: 1
  • Career nominations: 8
  • 2003: Best Contemporary R&B Album — Ashanti