Multi-platinum and Grammy-winning star Ashanti initially built her reputation as a famous singer in duets. She appeared with rapper Ja Rule on his smash "Always On Time," (2001) which rocketed to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart. She then was featured on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?," a duet that reached No. 2 in the US and No. 4 on the UK charts.
Ashanti cemented her position as one of R&B's brightest stars after the release of her self-titled debut album, Ashanti, in 2002. The lead single, "Foolish," topped the Hot 100 chart and landed at No. 4 on the UK chart. Two more singles, " Happy" and "Baby," also went to the Top Ten Charts. The album reached No. 1 on both the Billboard and R&B album charts, received multi-platinum certification, and won two American Music Awards, the Soul Train Aretha Franklin Award and a Teen Choice Award in 2002. Ashanti also netted a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2003. Along with the awards, she received five nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards. The following year, Ashanti again drew rave reviews with her second album, 2003's Chapter Two. As soon as the single "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" hit the music shelves, it peaked at No. 2 in the US and No. 7 on the UK charts. The album was also certified double platinum in the US and received gold certification in the UK. With 2004's Concrete Rose, Ashanti continued to attract public attention. This album too received platinum certification.
As for her private life, Ashanti is currently dating rapper star Nelly. The couple has had an on-and-off-again relationship since 2003.
Childhood and Family:
In Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas was born on October 13, 1980. Growing up in a musical family, her mother was a dance teacher and her father sang. Ashanti displayed talent in music and dance since childhood.
Already dancing by age three, Ashanti, whose nickname is Shani, went to Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center where she studied different dance styles. 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. With actress and choreographer Debbie Allen at the helm, Ashanti also performed in the Disney TV film Polly.
Ashanti displayed a knack for singing when she was six by singing in a gospel choir. Her love of music continued to rise as she attended high school. Ashanti also wrote 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. Deciding to pursue a career in singing, Ashanti declined a scholarship to Hampton University.
5' 3" inch tall Ashanti, whose favorite movies are The Color Purple and The Gods Must Be Crazy, currently lives in New York. During her off time, the popular R&B singer enjoys spending time with her family.
Ashanti began singing in a gospel choir when she was just six years old. She launched her singing career after performing in a local talent show in 1994. Soon after signing a contract, she was seen singing in such clubs and cafes as the Soul Cafe, China Club, Madison Square Garden, Caroline's Comedy Club and Greek Fest 2000.
After showcasing her soulful voice as a featured backup singer on Vita's 2001 hip hop remake of Madonna's "Justify My Love," which appeared on the Fast and Furious soundtrack, Ashanti was invited to sing background for Big Pun hit "How We Roll" in 2001. Her mounting love of music blossomed when she caught the attention of Murder Inc. Records' producer Irv Gotti who quickly signed her up with the label.
While working in the studio for her debut album, Ashanti appeared alongside rapper Ja Rule on his smash "Always On Time," (2001) a duet that peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart within two weeks of its release. It also reached No. 6 on the UK chart. At about the same time, Ashanti was also featured on rapper Fat Joe's "What's Luv?" Like the previous, it also ripped apart the charts and soon climbed the top ten, landing at No. 2 in the US and No. 4 on the UK charts. In addition to her duets, Ashanti also penned a song for Jennifer Lopez titled "Ain't It Funny," which also followed the success of the previous, creeping toward the top ten position. Through the singles, Ashanti was promoted to stardom.
"I want to create something so real and reflective that people just sit back and listen like, 'damn, was she in my window last night, because this really happened to me.' Everyone has gone through something that's on this album, and I want to be able to articulate their feelings." Ashanti
Ashanti eventually released her self-titled debut album in 2001, in which she also penned all 12 tracks. With its lead single "Foolish," Ashanti began to cement a name for her self. Within a week of its release, the single topped the Hot 100 chart. When it was launched in the UK, it also topped the charts, landing at No. 4. The album also spawned two hit singles, " Happy" and "Baby." "Happy" peaked at No. 8 and "Baby" reached no. 15 on the US charts.
At the same time her single raced up the Hot 100 chart, Ashanti's debut album also topped both the Billboard and R&B album charts. It sold four million copies in US, 300,000 in UK and 6.5 million worldwide. As a result, the album was certified multi-platinum. Adding to her success, Ashanti took home several awards: two American Music Awards, the Soul Train Aretha Franklin award for Entertainer of the Year and a Teen Choice Award for Breakout Artist of the Year in 2002. In 2003, she won a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Ashanti also received five nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards. Through the huge success of her debut album, Ashanti quickly became a sensation, appearing on the covers of magazines and dominating urban radio.
Ashanti followed it up with her second album, Chapter Two, which was launched in 2003. The album also premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart. The first hit from the album, "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)," scorched through the charts, landing at No. 2 in US and No. 7 in the UK. Another single, "Rain On Me," peaked at No. 7 im the US. The album finally received double platinum status in the United States and was certified gold in UK.
After the release of Ashanti's Christmas (2003), her third album Concrete Rose arrived in late 2004. Thanks to the hits " Only U" and "Don't Let Them," the album was also certified platinum.
"When I found out it was a true story, I thought, I definitely want to be a part of it, to make my debut. I wanted to take my time and ease on into it, and I didn't want to be the star of a film and have the whole film on my shoulders." Ashanti on film Coach Carter
Ashanti branched out to acting when she made a special appearance in Bride & Prejudice in 2004. She recently made her big screen debut when she played the supporting role Kyra in Coach Carter (2005, starring Samuel L. Jackson). In the film, she portrayed the pregnant girlfriend of Rob Brown's character. Ashanti next was seen acting in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005,TV), playing Dorothy, one of a trio of girls who group together to seek revenge against the school's resident stud who has broken their hearts. Commenting about her role in the show, she said, "I had a lot of fun, a lot of fun. That was a little easier than Kyra. I guess just having that drive to be a singer; Dorothy wanted to get out of Kansas. She wanted to make her life better so I can definitely relate to that."
Fans will also see Ashanti in the upcoming John Tucker Must Die (2006), opposite Jessie Metcalfe.
- American Music: Favorite New Artist in Pop/Rock and Hip-Hop/R&B Categories, 2003
- Grammy: Best Contemporary R&B Album, Ashanti, 2003
- Soul Train Aretha Franklin: Entertainer of the Year, 2002
- Teen Choice: Breakout Artist of the Year, 2002