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Ashanti 1980–

Ashanti 1980

Singer

Began Dancing as a Child

Found Success With Murder Inc.

Balanced Fame With Family

Became Entertainer of the Year

Sources

April Fools Day 2002 found R & B songstress Ashanti awaiting the midnight release of her selftitled debut album. That week she had already become the first artist since The Beatles to have three songs in the Billboard top ten. Two of those songs went on to grab the number one and two spots, a feat no other woman in U.S. chart history had accomplished. Meanwhile, a song she wrote for another artist was sitting in the number three spot. Of this unprecedented success she said in an online interview with www.teenpeople.com the night before her album hit, Oh my gosh, it feels crazy, and overwhelming! Its a blessing! More blessings were soon to follow. Her album debuted at number one. Within a week it had sold half a million copiesa record for first week sales by a female artist. Irv Gotti, CEO of Murder Inc., Ashantis record label, and a man known as a visionary in the rap and hiphop realms, told Music Television (MTV) of the debut, I always say we can go beyond our expectations, but she went beyond my expectations. Its never happened to me, where I thought we could do something and it went beyond my expectations. Her mother, Ashantis selfdescribed momager, seemed to expect Ashantis scorching success all along. She told mtv.com, From the moment she was born I just had the feeling she was gonna be a star.

Began Dancing as a Child

Ashanti Douglas was born on October 13, 1980, and grew up in Glen Cove, a neighborhood on Long Island, New York. Both of her parents worked as computer specialists though their backgrounds were in entertainmenther mother, Tina, danced and her father, Kincaid, sang. From the beginning her parents groomed Ashanti to follow in their footsteps. I couldnt find a birth announcement that was sufficient for the way I felt about my child, so I made my own up, Ashantis mother told MTV. It had all kinds of musical notes on it, and it said that she was gonna be a dancer. We said, Dancing to the boogie woogie beats of the lyrics written by her dad. She studied dance at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center and began dancing at the age of three. I did tap, jazz, modern, ballet, African, everything, she told Music & Media. She performed in famed venues like Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater and danced in the Disney TV film Polly directed by actress and choreographer Debbie Allen.

At a Glance

Born Ashanti Douglas on October 13,1980, raised in Glen Cove, Long Island, NY; parents Tina and Kincaid.

Career: Singer: Album, Ashanti, Murder Inc. Records 2002; singles: with Ja Rule, Always on Time; with Big Pun, How We Roll; with Fat Joe, Whats Luv. Other vocals: with P. Diddy, We Invented the Remix; with Ja Rule, soundtrack, The Fast and the Furious; with Vita, Justify My Love. Actress: Film: Malcolm X, Whos da Man, Polly. Television: American Dreams, NBC; Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, WB. Author: Reflections on Love: Foolish/Unfoolish, Hyperion Books, 2002. Has also worked as a professional dancer.

Awards: Entertainer of the Year, Aretha Franklin Award, Best R & B/Soul or Rap New Artist, Soul Trains Lady of Soul Awards, 2002; Breakout Artist of the Year, Teen Choice Awards, 2002; nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards, 2002; won two American Music Awards, 2003; nominated for five Grammy awards, 2003; nominated, two Soul Train Awards, 2003.

Addresses: Record Label Murder Inc., 825 8th Ave., New York, NY, 10019.

Ashanti seemed destined for a career in dance until it was discovered she could sing. Singing was kind of accidental, Ashanti told MTV. Her mother had told her to do some chores and turn off the radio. Twelveyearold Ashanti obeyed and went to work, singing to herself. [My mom] comes storming down the steps: Didnt I tell you to turn the radio off? Im like, Yeah, that wasnt the radio. I was just singing. Her mother continued, telling MTV, She sang Mary J. Bliges Reminisce and Ill never forget it. I put her in a couple of talent shows and she came in first place. Once I found out she could sing, it was a wrap. Less than two years later Ashanti signed her first record contract with Jive Records. That deal went nowhere, in part because Ashanti wanted to write her own songs, something the record company did not like. A few years later, at 17, Ashanti moved to Atlanta to work with Noontime, a subsidiary of megalabel Epic. That partnership fizzled out as well and she was soon back in New York, finishing up high school and starting to plan for her future. Of the failed deals she told Music & Media, It was all like a character builder, I got a chance to learn a lot of things very early.

Despite her budding career, Ashanti kept pace with her schoolwork. She was an honor student in English and belonged to the English club where she began writing poetry. She was also a standout on the track team and brought home quite a few medals for her school. Her academic and athletic talents drew the attention of both Princeton University and Hampton University, the latter of which offered her a scholarship. She turned it down, deciding to give music another shot.

Found Success With Murder Inc.

Ashantis manager scored a meeting for her with Irv Gotti, the man behind the hardcore rap label Murder, Inc. At first it seemed an unlikely pairing. The label had a street thug edgeits artists were called murderers and its website opened with the sound of gunshotsand Ashanti was a sweetfaced honor student who sang R & B. However, as her mom told People Weekly, She looks innocent, but if theres something she wants, shell get it. What she wanted was to fuse her R & B style with harder rap and hiphop sounds. She credits singer Mary J. Blige with that influence. I didnt want to sing only slow songs and I didnt want to be spittin rhymes, she is quoted on the Def Jam website. But Mary put those concepts together. She cleared the way. Gotti was looking to expand Murder Inc.s roster and thought that with her sultry voice and stunning looks Ashanti might become his first crossover artist to find popular success. He asked her to sing the choruscalled a hookon How We Roll by Murder Inc. artist Big Pun. Gotti was impressed and she soon signed a deal to become the labels first R & B artist.

Ashanti went into the labels Greenwich Village studio and began to work on her debut album, Ashanti. She wrote the lyrics for all twelve songs, penning many of them right in the studio. When you perform your own records, records you wrote, for me, the emotion I feel is deeper than when I sing someone elses words, she said on www.teenpeople.com. With those songs she also hoped to touch other people. Everyone has gone through something thats on this album, and I want to be able to articulate their feelings, she is quoted on Def Jams website.

While finishing up her album, she appeared on rapper Ja Rules Always on Time. In the song she plays the smoothvoiced girlfriend to Ja Rules hardedged man. The song scorched through the charts landing at number one. At about the same time she appeared alongside another rapper, Fat Joe, on his Whats Luv? single. Again her sultry cooing played perfectly off the ganstafueled rap and the song also tore up the charts. Meanwhile, a song she wrote for Jennifer Lopez, Aint it Funny, also began climbing towards the top ten. Murder Inc. promptly released Foolish, the first single off of Ashanti and it also soared. By April of 2002, Foolish was holding the number one spot, Whats Luv? was at number two, and Aint it Funny was three. She became the first new female artist to hold both the one and two spots, and only the second artist since the Beatles to have three songs in the top ten at the same time. Ashanti was living up to Murder Inc.s motto and killing with her music.

Balanced Fame With Family

Ashantis voice was everywhere, booming out of car stereos on street corners, filling the dance floor at clubs, appearing on radio shows with her Murder Inc. brethren. The public was entranced by her sexy blend of R & B and gansta rap. With the videos for Always on Time and Foolish receiving heavy airtime, the public also took notice of her dropdead beauty. Her faceand often scantily clad bodywas splashed across magazine spreads. Ashanti was hot and Gotti and crew decided to take advantage of it, pushing up the release of her album. It was a smart move. Ashanti shot straight to number one and sold an unprecedented 504,000 units during the first week. Ashanti was stunned, Never in a million years would I have thought it would go down like this, she told Newsweek.

Foolish made headway in the urban radio formathome to rap and hiphopas well as the more mainstream pop format. Murder Inc. had its crossover star. If her life before the album was as she described to www.alloy.com like a roller coaster, her life after Ashanti dropped became a nonstop loop on a supercoaster. She told Entertainment Weekly, It gets ridiculous when Im doing three states in one day with the travel and the entourage and the change and the security checks and the radio and the autographs and the smiling in the airportits bananas! Though she was quick to add, But I remember when I was on the couch watching everyone go to college while Im watching [daytime talk show] Ricki Lake. And its worth it.

For Ashanti, a selfavowed family girl, there have been sacrifices. [The success] is bittersweet because Im so close to my family, and I havent seen them in a long time, she told www.alloy.com. But everyone is so proud of me and so happy for my success. It is younger sister Kenashias voice that pipes in near the end of the album saying, Im glad that your dreams are finally coming true. Her family has been with her every step of the way. When the video for Foolish aired on BET she recalled to Newsweek, My whole family came to the house, cause we had a big TV in the middle of the living room. My cousin started crying, my aunts, they were screaming. When friends suggested she spend some of her newfound wealth on a sleek $120,000 Mercedes Benz she refused. It only has two seats, she told People Weekly. I couldnt bring my family anywhere.

Became Entertainer of the Year

Ashantis meteoric streak through the top of the charts brought with it a slew of music nominations and awards. She led Soul Trains Lady of Soul Awards with the most nominations, five in all including Best New Artist which she won. Over at MTV she grabbed four nominations at their Video Music Awards and performed live at the hugely popular event. She also scored Breakout Artist of the Year from the 2002 Teen Choice Awards. In November of 2002 she found out she was up for five awards at the 30th annual American Music Awards.

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 online 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 charttopping success, most reviewers panned Ashantis debut effort. Other critics pointed to the fact that Ashantis phenomenal first week sales were propelled along by Island Def Jam Music Group, the parent company of Murder Inc. The company offered retailers a twodollar rebate for each album sold in the first two weeks. While it is true that Ashanti was hot, Lyor Cohen, CEO of Island Def Jam, confessed to The New York Times, We put gasoline in the carburetor.

Ashanti no longer needs extra gas. She has a modeling contract with Candies Shoes and has begun to rack up acting credits on both the small and big screens including a starring role in Warner Brothers 2003 remake of Sparkle. In November of 2002 Hyperion released a collection of her poems, and she was scheduled to float through New York in the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. Reflecting on this incredible success she told www.alloy.com, Oh, man, I would have never thought! It was like an eight and a half year struggle. Those years provided great momentum. Ashanti is primed to take on the road to super stardom.

Sources

Periodicals

The Atlanta JournalConstitution, April 2, 2002, p. F2.

Daily Star (London, England), August 26, 2002, p. 15.

Entertainment Weekly, July 12, 2002, p. 40.

Music & Media, July 20, 2002, p. 1.

The New York Times, May 12, 2002, p. 1, p. 15.

Newsweek, April 22, 2002, p. 64.

People Weekly, May 27, 2002, p. 174.

Rolling Stone, May 23, 2002.

The Seattle Times, August 30, 2002, p. H6.

Online

www.alloy.com/entertainment/celebcentral/celebspotlight/2002-03-18-ashanti

www.ashanti.prv.pl

www.ashantimusic.net

www.defjam.corri/murderinc/ashantLframe.html

www.mtv.com

www.teenpeople.com/teenpeople/chat/transcripts/0,8609,221437,00.html

Candace LaBalle

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Ashanti

Ashanti



Singer





April Fool's Day 2002 found R&B songstress Ashanti awaiting the midnight release of her self-titled debut album. That week she had already become the first artist since The Beatles to have three songs in the Billboard top ten. Two of those songs went on to grab the number one and two spots, a feat no other woman in U.S. chart history had accomplished. Meanwhile, a song she wrote for another artist was sitting in the number three spot. Of this unprecedented success, she said in an online interview with Teenpeople.com the night before her album hit, "Oh my gosh, it feels crazy, and overwhelming! It's a blessing!" More blessings were soon to follow. Her album debuted at number one. Within a week it had sold half a million copiesa record for first week sales by a female artist. Irv Gotti, CEO of Murder Inc., Ashanti's record label, and a man known as a visionary in the rap and hip-hop realms, told MTV of the debut, "I always say we can go beyond our expectations, but she went beyond my expectations. It's never happened to me, where I thought we could do something and it went beyond my expectations." Her mother, Ashanti's self-described "momager," seemed to expect Ashanti's scorching success all along. She told MTV, "From the moment she was born I just had the feeling she was gonna be a star."


Began Dancing as a Child

Ashanti Douglas was born on October 13, 1980, and grew up in Glen Cove, a neighborhood on Long Island, New York. Both of her parents worked as computer specialists though their backgrounds were in entertain-menther mother, Tina, danced and her father, Kincaid, sang. From the beginning her parents groomed Ashanti to follow in their footsteps. "I couldn't find a birth announcement that was sufficient for the way I felt about my child, so I made my own up," Ashanti's mother told MTV. "It had all kinds of musical notes on it, and it said that she was gonna be a dancer. We said, 'Dancing to the boogie woogie beats of the lyrics written by her dad.'" She studied dance at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center and began dancing at the age of three. "I did tap, jazz, modern, ballet, African, everything," she told Music & Media. She performed in famed venues like Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater and danced in the Disney television film Polly.

Ashanti seemed destined for a career in dance until it was discovered she could sing. "Singing was kind of accidental," Ashanti told MTV. Her mother had told her to do some chores and turn off the radio. Twelve year old Ashanti obeyed and went to work, singing to herself. "[My mom] comes storming down the steps: 'Didn't I tell you to turn the radio off?' I'm like, 'Yeah, that wasn't the radio. I was just singing.'" Her mother continued, telling MTV, "She sang Mary J. Blige's 'Reminisce' and I'll never forget it. I put her in a couple of talent shows and she came in first place. Once I found out she could sing, it was a wrap." Less than two years later Ashanti signed her first record contract with Jive Records. That deal went nowhere, in part because Ashanti wanted to write her own songs, something the record company did not like. A few years later at 17, Ashanti moved to Atlanta to work with Noontime, a subsidiary of mega-label Epic. That partnership fizzled out as well and she was soon back in New York, finishing up high school and starting to plan for her future. Of the failed deals she told Music & Media, "It was all like a character builder, I got a chance to learn a lot of things very early."

Despite her budding career, Ashanti kept pace with her schoolwork. She was an honor student in English and belonged to the English club where she began writing poetry. She was also a standout on the track team and brought home quite a few medals for her school. Her academic and athletic talents drew the attention of both Princeton University and Hampton University, the latter of which offered her a scholarship. She turned it down, deciding to give music another shot.

Found Success With Murder Inc.

Ashanti's manager scored a meeting for her with Irv Gotti, the man behind the hardcore rap label Murder Inc. At first it seemed an unlikely pairing. The label had a street thug edgeits artists were called "murderers" and its website opened with the sound of gunshotsand Ashanti was a sweet-faced honor student who sang R&B. However, as her mom told People, "She looks innocent, but if there's something she wants, she'll get it." What she wanted was to fuse her R&B style with harder rap and hip-hop sounds. She credits singer Mary J. Blige with that influence. "I didn't want to sing only slow songs and I didn't want to be spittin' rhymes," she is quoted on the Def Jam website. "But Mary put those concepts together. She cleared the way." Gotti was looking to expand Murder Inc.'s roster and thought that with her sultry voice and stunning looks Ashanti might become his first crossover artist to find popular success. He asked her to sing the choruscalled a hookon "How We Roll" by the late Murder Inc. artist Big Pun. Gotti was impressed and she soon signed a deal to become the label's first R&B artist.

Ashanti went into the label's Greenwich Village studio and began to work on her debut album, Ashanti. She wrote the lyrics for all twelve songs, penning many of them right in the studio. "When you perform your own records, records you wrote, for me, the emotion I feel is deeper than when I sing someone else's words," she said on Teenpeople.com. With those songs she also hoped to touch other people. "Everyone has gone through something that's on this album, and I want to be able to articulate their feelings," she is quoted on Def Jam's website.

For the Record . . .

Born Ashanti Douglas on October 13, 1980, raised in Glen Cove, Long Island, NY; daughter of Tina (her manager) and Kincaid (a computer specialist) Douglas.


Signed with Murder Inc., 2001; sang on singles with Ja Rule, "Always on Time," with Big Pun, "How We Roll," and with Fat Joe, "What's Luv," 2002; released debut album, Ashanti, on Murder Inc., 2002; released book of poetry, Reflections on Love: Foolish/Unfoolish, Hyperion Books, 2002; released Chapter II, 2003.


Awards: Lady of Soul Awards, Best R&B/Soul Artist, Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year, 2002; Teen Choice Award, Breakout Artist of the Year, 2002; Billboard Awards, Female Artist of the Year, Top New Pop Artist, Hot 100 Singles Artist, R&B/Hip Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip Hop Female Artist of the Year, New R&B/Hip Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip Hop Single of the Year for "Foolish," 2002; Grammy Award, Best Contemporary R&B Album for Ashanti, 2002; American Music Awards, Favorite New Artist in Pop/Rock, Favorite New Artist in R&B/Hip Hop, 2003; Soul Train Awards, Best R&B/Soul Single for "Foolish," Best R&B/Soul Album for Ashanti, 2003; NAACP Image Award, Outstanding New Artist, 2003.


Addresses: Record company Murder Inc., 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.defjam.com/murderinc/. Website Ashanti Official Website: http://www.defjam.com/murderinc/ashanti/.



While finishing up her album, she appeared on rapper Ja Rule's "Always on Time." In the song she plays the smooth-voiced girlfriend to Ja Rule's hard-edged man. The song scorched through the charts, landing at number one. At about the same time she appeared alongside another rapper, Fat Joe, on his "What's Luv?" single. Again her sultry cooing played perfectly off the gangsta-fueled rap and the song also tore up the charts. Meanwhile, a song she wrote for Jennifer Lopez, "Ain't it Funny," also began climbing towards the top ten. Murder Inc. promptly released "Foolish," the first single off of Ashanti and it also soared. By April of 2002, "Foolish" was holding the number one spot, "What's Luv?" was at number two, and "Ain't it Funny" was three. She became the first new female artist to hold both the one and two spots, and only the second artist since the Beatles to have three songs in the top ten at the same time.


Balanced Fame With Family


Ashanti's voice was everywhere, booming out of car stereos on street corners, filling the dance floor at clubs, appearing on radio shows with her Murder Inc. brethren. The public was entranced by her sexy blend of R&B and gangsta rap. With the videos for "Always on Time" and "Foolish" receiving heavy airtime, the public also took notice of her drop-dead beauty. Her faceand often scantily clad bodywas splashed across magazine spreads. Ashanti was hot and Gotti and crew decided to take advantage of it, pushing up the release of her album. It was a smart move. Ashanti shot straight to number one and sold an unprecedented 504,000 units during the first week. Ashanti was stunned, "Never in a million years would I have thought it would go down like this," she told Newsweek.


"Foolish" made headway in the urban radio formathome to rap and hip-hopas well as the more mainstream pop format. If her life before the album was, as she described to Alloy, "like a roller coaster," her life after Ashanti dropped became a non-stop loop on a super-coaster. She told Entertainment Weekly, "It gets ridiculous when I'm doing three states in one day with the travel and the entourage and the change and the security checks and the radio and the autographs and the smiling in the airportit's bananas!" Though she was quick to add, "But I remember when I was on the couch watching everyone go to college while I'm watching [daytime talk show] Ricki Lake. And it's worth it."


For Ashanti, a self-avowed family girl, there have been sacrifices. "[The success] is bittersweet because I'm so close to my family, and I haven't seen them in a long time," she told Alloy. "But everyone is so proud of me and so happy for my success." It is younger sister Kenashia's voice that pipes in near the end of the album saying, "I'm glad that your dreams are finally coming true." Her family has been with her every step of the way. When the video for "Foolish" first aired on BET, she recalled to Newsweek, "My whole family came to the house, 'cause we had a big TV in the middle of the living room. My cousin started crying, my aunts, they were screaming." When friends suggested she spend some of her newfound wealth on a sleek $120,000 Mercedes Benz she refused. "It only has two seats," she told People. "I couldn't bring my family anywhere."


Became "Entertainer of the Year"


Ashanti's meteoric streak through the top of the charts brought with it a slew of music nominations and awards. She led Soul Train 's Lady of Soul Awards with the most nominations, five in all, including Best New Artist, which she won. Over at MTV she grabbed four nominations at their Video Music Awards and performed live at the hugely popular event. She also scored Breakout Artist of the Year from the 2002 Teen Choice Awards. In November of 2002 she found out she was up for five awards at the 30th annual American Music Awards. She won her first Grammy Award, taking home the prize for Best Contemporary R&B Album for her debut, Ashanti.

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 online 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 chart-topping success, most reviewers panned Ashanti's debut effort. On the night of the award ceremony, Ashanti graciously accepted the honor from presenter Patti LaBelle. LaBelle deemed Ashanti "extremely deserving of this wonderful recognition," and the controversy settled down soon after.


Ashanti continued to collaborate with other Murder Inc. artists, appearing on Ja Rule's "Mesmerize" and the summertime hit "Into You" with up-and-coming rapper Fabolous. She also spent time working on her sophomore album, again writing the majority of the tracks on the album. Chapter II, released in August of 2003, debuted in the number one position on the Billboard charts. The album, wrote People reviewer Chuck Arnold, "proves wrong those who thought she would be a one-hit-album-wonder." Though the album lacks lyrical depth, he found it to be the perfect end-of-summer treat. "It's easy, breezy listening that doesn't require much brain power." In an interview with Jet magazine, Ashanti revealed that she has changed since her debut a year earlier. "I've learned that I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was. I'm just going to try to work hard. Whether it's writing music or still singing, I definitely want to stay humble and successful."



Selected discography

Ashanti, Murder Inc., 2002.

Foolish/Unfoolish (spoken word), Hyperion, 2002.

7 Series: Ashanti, Murder Inc., 2003.

Chapter II, Murder Inc., 2003.

Ashanti's Christmas, The Inc., 2003.

Sources

Periodicals


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 2, 2002, p. F2.

Cincinnati Post, August 26, 2002, p. 12C.

Daily Star (London, England), August 26, 2002, p. 15.

Ebony, March 2003, p. 170.

Entertainment Weekly, July 12, 2002, p. 40; July 11, 2003, p. 77.

Jet, August 11, 2003, p. 62.

Music & Media, July 20, 2002, p. 1.

New York Times, May 12, 2002, p. 15.

Newsweek, April 22, 2002, p. 64.

People, May 27, 2002, p. 174; August 4, 2003, p. 35.

Rolling Stone, May 23, 2002.

Seattle Times, August 30, 2002, p. H6.

Online


"Ashanti," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (December 6, 2003).

"Ashanti," Teenpeople.com, http://www.teenpeople.com/teenpeople/chat/transcripts/0,8609,221437,00.html (June 23, 2003).

"Ashanti: My Sacrifice," MTV, http://www.mtv.com/bands/a/ashanti/news_feature_april_02/index.jhtml (December 9, 2003).

Ashanti Official Website, http://www.defjam.com/murderinc/ashanti (December 9, 2003).

"Rockin' Her Way to the Top," Essence, http://www.essence.com/essence/print/0,14882,459978,00.html (December 7, 2003).

"Spotlight: Ashanti," Alloy, http://www.alloy.com/entertainment/celebcentral/celebspotlight/2002-03-18-ashanti (December 9, 2003).

Candace LaBalle

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Ashanti 1980–

ASHANTI 1980–

(Ashanti Douglas, Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas)

PERSONAL

Full name, Ashanti Douglas (some sources cite Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas or Ashantiveli Douglas); born October 13, 1980, in Glen Cove, NY; daughter of Kincaid (a manager, computer specialist, and singer; other sources cite name as Thomas or Ken-Kaid) and Tina (a manager, computer specialist, and dance teacher) Douglas. Education: Studied dance at Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center.

Addresses: Agent—TalentWorks, 3500 West Olive Ave., Suite 1400, Burbank, CA 91505; (music) International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Contact—c/o The Inc., 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019.

Career: Singer, songwriter, recording artist, and actress. The Inc. (record label; formerly known as Murder Inc.), New York City, recording artist, beginning 2001; backup singer for Jennifer Lopez; dancer, including appearances at Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1989, and at the Apollo Theatre. Worked as a model; appeared in advertisements and public service announcements.

Awards, Honors: Lady of Soul awards, best rhythm and blues/soul new artist and Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year Award, both 2002; Teen Choice Award, choice breakout artist, 2002; named best rhythm and blues artist, Rolling Stone readers' poll, 2002; named best new R & B diva, Entertainment Weekly, 2002; nomination for best new artist, Black Entertainment Television, 2002; Grammy Award, best contemporary rhythm and blues album, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Billboard awards, female artist of the year, top new pop artist of the year, rhythm and blues/hip-hop artist of the year, rhythm and blues/hip-hop female artist of the year, new rhythm and blues/hip-hop artist of the year, and hot 100 singles artist of the year, and Lady of Soul Award nomination, rhythm and blues/soul album of the year, all 2002, Soul Train Award, best female rhythm and blues/soul album, Soul Train Award nomination, rhythm and blues/soul or rap album of the year, and American Music Award nominations, favorite pop or rock 'n' roll music album and favorite hip-hop/ rhythm and blues music album, all 2003, all for Ashanti; MTV Video Music award nomination, best hip-hop video, and Teen Choice Award nomination, choice music collaboration, both 2002, and Grammy Award nomination, best rap/sung collaboration, 2003, all with Fat Joe, all for the song "What's Luv?"; Billboard Award, rhythm and blues/hip-hop single of the year, Lady of Soul Award nominations, best rhythm and blues/soul single, rhythm and blues/soul song of the year, and best rhythm and blues soul music video, MTV Video Music Award nominations, best female video, best rhythm and blues video, and best new artist in a video, and Teen Choice Award nomination, choice rhythm and blues/hip-hop single, all 2002, Soul Train Award, best rhythm and blues/soul single by a female, 2003, and Grammy Award nomination, best rhythm and blues vocal performance, 2003, all for the song "Foolish"; MTV Video Music Award nomination, best hip-hop video, Teen Choice Award nomination, choice music collaboration, and Viewers' Choice Award nomination, Black Entertainment Television, all 2002, and Grammy Award nomination, best rap/sung collaboration, 2003, all with Ja Rule, all for the song "Always on Time"; American Music awards, favorite new artist in pop/rock and favorite new artist in hip-hop/rhythm and blues, and American Music Award nominations, Fans' Choice Award and favorite female artist in hip-hop/rhythm and blues, all 2003; Image Award, outstanding new artist, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Image Award nomination, outstanding female artist, both 2003; Blimp Award, best new artist, Nickelodeon Kids' Choice awards, 2003; Grammy Award nomination, best new artist, 2003; Grammy Award nomination, best contemporary rhythm and blues album, 2003, for Chapter II; Grammy Award nomination, best rhythm and blues vocal performance, 2003, for "Rain on Me," Chapter II; MTV Movie Award nomination, breakthrough female, and Teen Choice Award nomination, choice movie breakout performance by a female, both 2005, for Coach Carter; Teen Choice Award nomination, choice crossover artist, 2005.

CREDITS

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Herself, I Love the '80s Strikes Back, VH1, 2003.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Dorothy Gale, "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz," The Wonderful World of Disney, ABC, 2005.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Dancer, Polly, NBC, 1989.

MTV's New Year's Eve 2002, MTV, 2001.

MTV Spring Break, MTV, 2002.

Party in the Park, Channel 5 (England), 2002.

Summer Music Mania 2002, Fox, 2002.

Herself, When I Was 17, MTV, 2003.

America's Party: New Years Live from Las Vegas, Fox, 2003.

(As Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas) Ashanti: Chapter II, ABC Family Channel, 2003.

Christmas in Rockefeller Center, NBC, 2003.

Christmas in Washington, TNT, 2003.

Fromage 2003, MuchMusic, 2003.

MTV Presents Teen People Magazine's 25 Hottest Stars under 29, MTV, 2003.

Real Access: Hot 24 in 2004, MTV, 2003.

Road Trippin with Ashanti, MTV, 2003.

The Sixth Annual Sears Soul Train Christmas Starfest, UPN, 2003.

The 2003 Essence Music Festival, UPN, 2003.

VH1 Divas Duet, VH1, 2003.

Herself, Maxim Hot 100, VH1, 2003, 2004.

Herself, Ladies of the VMAs, MTV, 2004.

Herself, Prince: The Art of Musicology, MTV, 2004.

Herself, VH1 and Self Magazine's Top 10 Rock Bodies, VH1, 2004.

Apollo at 70: A Hot Night in Harlem, NBC, 2004.

Ashanti: Custom Concert, Oxygen Channel, 2004.

An Evening of Stars 25th Anniversary: Tribute to Lou Rawls, NBC, 2004.

VH1 Divas 2004, VH1, 2004.

(As Ashanti Douglas) All That 10th Anniversary Reunion Special, Nickelodeon, 2005.

MTV's Iced Out New Year's Eve 2005, MTV, 2005.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

MTV Video Music Awards 2002 (also known as VMAs 2002), MTV, 2002.

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards '02, Nickelodeon, 2002.

The Second Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2002.

The 16th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated, 2002.

The 2002 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 2002.

Presenter, MTV Video Music Awards 2003, MTV, 2003.

The 45th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 2003.

(In archive footage) MTV Europe Music Awards 2003, MTV, 2003.

The Third Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2003.

The 30th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2003.

The 31st Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2003.

2003 Much Music Video Music Awards, MuchMusic, 2003.

Herself, VH1 Big in '04, VH1, 2004.

The Second Annual Vibe Awards, UPN, 2004.

The Third Annual TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV, TV Land, 2005.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

(Uncredited) Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's "Saturday Night," Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 2001.

Herself, "Ashanti: Princess of Her Domain," Diary, MTV, 2002.

Herself, "Call Me Crazy," Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (also known as Sabrina and Sabrina Goes to College), The WB, 2002.

Dionne Warwick, "Silent Night," American Dreams (also known as Bandstand, Miss American Pie, and Our Generation), NBC, 2002.

Guest, Top of the Pops (also known as All New Top of the Pops and TOTP), BBC, 2002.

Guest, V Graham Norton, Channel 4 (England), 2002.

Guest, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2002, 2005.

Herself, Intimate Portrait: Ashanti, Lifetime, 2003.

Lissa, "First Date," Buffy the Vampire Slayer (also known as Buffy and BtVS), UPN, 2003.

Guest, Entertainment Tonight (also known as ET), syndicated, 2003.

Guest, Punk'd, MTV, 2003.

Guest, Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2003.

Pepsi Smash, The WB, 2003.

Guest, Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2004, 2005.

(As Ashanti Douglas) Herself, "Magic Carpet Fred," Las Vegas, NBC, 2005.

Guest, Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show (also known as Ellen and The Ellen DeGeneres Show), syndicated, 2005.

Guest, GMTV, Independent Television, 2005.

Guest, Last Call with Carson Daly, NBC, 2005.

Guest, 106 & Park Top 10 Live (also known as 106 & Park), Black Entertainment Television, 2005.

Appeared in an episode of Ride with Funkmaster Flex, Spike TV; and as a guest, The View, ABC. Appeared in archive footage in The Fabulous Life Presents: Celebrity Rags to Riches, VH1.

Television Producer; Specials:

(As Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas) Ashanti: Chapter II, ABC Family Channel, 2003.

Film Appearances:

Rudy, Alice on Stage, 1997.

Kyra, Coach Carter, Paramount, 2005.

Performer, Bride & Prejudice (musical; also known as Bride and Prejudice: The Bollywood Musical), Miramax, 2005.

Heather, John Tucker Must Die, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

Performer of songs that have appeared in films, television productions, and videos.

RECORDINGS

Albums:

Ashanti, Murder Inc., 2002.

Ashanti's Christmas, The Inc., 2003.

Chapter II, Def Jam, 2003.

Maximum Ashanti, Chrome Dreams, 2003.

7 Series Sampler: Ashanti, The Inc., 2003.

Can't Stop, Black Claw, 2004.

Concrete Rose, Def Jam, 2004.

Albums with Others:

The Fast and the Furious (soundtrack recording), 2001.

Disneymania, Walt Disney, 2002.

Irv Gotti Presents the Inc., Murder Inc./Universal, 2002.

Irv Gotti Presents the Remixes, Murder Inc./Universal, 2002.

Singles:

(With Big Pun [also known as Big Punisher]) "How We Roll," c. 1998.

(With Ja Rule) "Always on Time," 2002.

"Baby," 2002.

(With Ja Rule) "Down 4 U," Murder Inc., 2002.

"Foolish," Murder Inc., 2002.

"Happy," Murder Inc., 2002.

(With Fat Joe) "What's Luv?," 2002.

(With Notorious B.I.G.) "Unfoolish," c. 2002.

(With P. Diddy) "We Invented the Remix," c. 2002.

(With Ja Rule) "Mesmerize," The Inc., 2003.

"Rain on Me," 2003.

"Rock wit U (Awww Baby)," 2003.

(With Shyne) "Jimmy Choo," 2004.

"Only U," Def Jam, 2004.

(With Lloyd Banks) "Southside," 2004.

(With Ja Rule) "Wonderful," 2004.

"Don't Let Them," 2005.

Released other singles.

Videos:

Hip Hop Uncensored Vol. 5: The Greatest Shows on Earth, Music Video Distributors, 2003.

Wrestlemania XIX, 2003.

Princes of Hip Hop (also known as Ashanti: Princes of Hip Hop Soul), Music Video Distributors, 2004.

Princess of Hip Hop, Azure, 2004.

Music Videos:

(With Big Pun [also known as Big Punisher]) "How We Roll," c. 1998.

(With Ja Rule) "Always on Time," 2002.

"Baby," 2002.

(With Ja Rule) "Down 4 U," Murder Inc., 2002.

"Foolish," Murder Inc., 2002.

"Happy," Murder Inc., 2002.

(With Fat Joe) "What's Luv?," 2002.

(With Notorious B.I.G.) "Unfoolish," c. 2002.

(With P. Diddy) "We Invented the Remix," c. 2002.

Fabolous, "Into You," 2003.

(With Ja Rule) "Mesmerize," The Inc., 2003.

"Rain on Me," 2003.

"Rock wit U (Awww Baby)," 2003.

(With Shyne) "Jimmy Choo," 2004.

"Only U," Def Jam, 2004.

(With Lloyd Banks) "Southside," 2004.

(With Ja Rule) "Wonderful," 2004.

"Don't Let Them," 2005.

WRITINGS

Lyricist; Albums:

Ashanti, Murder Inc., 2002.

Ashanti's Christmas, The Inc., 2003.

Chapter II, Def Jam, 2003.

Maximum Ashanti, Chrome Dreams, 2003.

7 Series Sampler: Ashanti, The Inc., 2003.

Can't Stop, Black Claw, 2004.

Concrete Rose, Def Jam, 2004.

Writer of singles. Songs featured in films, television productions, and videos.

Poetry and Essays:

Foolish/Unfoolish: Reflections on Love, Hyperion, 2002, audiobook released by Time Warner Audiobooks, 2003.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 37, Gale, 2003.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 45, Gale, 2004.

Newsmakers, issue 1, Gale, 2004.

Periodicals:

Blender, June, 2003, pp. 66-69.

Ebony, August, 2002, pp. 82-87; March, 2003, pp. 170-73; March, 2005, p. 154.

Entertainment Weekly, July 12, 2002, pp. 40-41; December 20, 2002, p. 48.

Interview, August, 2002, pp. 98-100.

Jet, April 22, 2002, pp. 56-61; July 1, 2002, pp. 58-61; August 11, 2003, pp. 62-65; February 21, 2005, p. 16.

Newsweek, April 22, 2002, p. 64.

People Weekly, May 27, 2002, p. 174; January 10, 2005, p. 87.

Rolling Stone, May 23, 2002.

Sports Illustrated, January 17, 2005, p. 22.

Washington Post, August 17, 2002, pp. C1, C4.

Electronic:

Ashanti Official Site, http://www.ashantithisisme.com, August 23, 2005.

VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com, June 16, 2003; December 9, 2004.

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"Ashanti 1980–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Ashanti 1980–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ashanti-1980-0

Ashanti

ASHANTI

Born: Ashanti S. Douglas; Glen Cove, New York, 13 October 1980

Genre: R&B, Hip-Hop

Best-selling album since 1990: Ashanti (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "Always on Time," "Foolish"


The guest-appearance cameo has long been a means of introducing a new voice into the worlds of rhythm and blues and rap. Few artists, however, so quickly and successfully capitalized on the strength of a handful of smartly placed guest spots as New York-born Ashanti Douglas, whose recordings eventually sold millions.

Trained as a dancer at New York's renowned Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, Ashanti had harbored dreams of pop stardom since her childhood in Glen Cove, New York, in the home of a singing father and a dancing mother. After honing her chops in a gospel choir beginning at age six, the singer signed her first recording contract at age thirteen with Jive Records. Nothing came of the contract, and it took nearly eight more years before Ashanti made a name for herself.

In the meantime, Ashanti danced in a variety of settings: as part of the Senior Pro Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and in Disney's television musical Polly. The singer also danced in several music videos and appeared in the hip-hop comedy Who's Da Man and Spike Lee's Malcolm X.

While focusing on her schoolwork, Ashanti, a talented runner, was offered track scholarships to Hampton and Princeton Universities, which she turned down in order to pursue her singing career. Two more record deals fell through before Ashanti was discovered in 2001 by Irv Gotti, the CEO of a rising record label. Mining a formula that he used to make his record label, Murder Inc., one of the most successful of the early 2000s, Gotti paired the girlish singer with the late Latin rapper Big Pun on the 2001 hit single "How We Roll," giving Ashanti her big break via a cameo vocal on the rapper's song.

Like many of her future hits, the song mixed Pun's street-themed, sometimes profane boasting with Ashanti's smooth, elegant vocals on the song's chorus, a formula that shrewdly appealed to both male and female hip-hop fans. Gotti tried the "gangsta and the lady" trick with Ashanti a few more times, pairing her with rapper Fat Joe, on the smash hit "What's Luv?" and with the Murder Inc. cornerstone Ja Rule on "Always on Time," which hit number one on the Billboard singles chart in early 2002. Ashanti also sang backup on the remix of the number one hit from Jennifer Lopez, "Ain't It Funny."

An Instant Hit Debut

With several hit singles under her belt working for Gotti in a freelance role, Ashanti was officially signed by him as the first R&B act in the label's nearly all-male, testosterone-heavy lineup. In addition to her facility with singing a song's "hook"the catchy portion of the chorus between versesAshanti proved to be a deft lyricist, penning singles for Lopez and singer Christina Milian.

It was no surprise then that the singer wrote all twelve songsmany on the spoton her self-titled debut (2002), which broke first-week sales records for a debut from a female R&B artist. The album easily topped the Billboard charts as her debut solo single, the obsessive love tale "Foolish," reigned on the singles chart. Owing to her sudden ubiquity, in a single week in March prior to the album's release, "Foolish," "Always on Time," and "What's Luv?" all sat in the Top 10 on the singles chart.

Ashanti songs such as "Happy" (featuring Ja Rule), "Baby," and "Rescue" explore the ups and downs of relationships with a mix of preternatural maturity and high school-crush sincerity, all delivered in the singer's understated, seductive style. In "Leaving (Always on Time Part II)," another tale of infidelity, Ashanti pleads, "When you was cheating you was probably thinking I won't sense a thing / But love got a funny way of catchin' up to lies."

"Foolish" relied on a sample of the same El Debarge song ("Stay with Me") used by the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. in his hit of the same name. A sample of a Notorious B.I.G. rap is included on the equally popular remix of the song, "Unfoolish."

Ashanti's mix of hip-hop rhythms, a girlish, sensual voice, and ties to a credible, street-tough label set the stage for the singer to quickly catapult into the same rarefied air as one of her idols, the "queen of hip-hop soul," Mary J. Blige. It also opened doors for the hip-hop community by finding a way to appeal simultaneously to male and female audiences.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Ashanti (Murder Inc./Universal, 2002).

gil kaufman

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