Ashanti is Best Known For The commercial success of her studio album, Chapter II, which made its Billboard 200 debut at the first position and sold over 326,000 copies within the first week. The popularity of her studio album, The Declaration, which managed to sell over 86,000 copies within the first week. Having been cast in important roles in popular movies such as Coach Carter, John Tucker Must Die, and Resident Evil: Extinction.
Born Name Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas
Nick Name Ashanti, Shani, Princess of Hip Hop and Soul
Occupation Singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actress
Years active 1997–present
Born: October 13, 1980, 39 years and 4 months, Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, United States
Sun Sign Libra
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Dark Brown
Height 5 ft 3 in or 160 cm
Measurements: 34-23-38 in / 86.36-58.42-96.52 cm
Bra Size: 32B
Genre Hip hop, RandB, Soul
Ashanti went to the Glen Cove High School in her hometown.
Father – Ken-Kaide Thomas Douglas (Former Singer)
Mother – Tina Douglas (Former Dance Teacher)
Siblings – Kenashia Douglas (Sister)
Others – Thomas Gilbert Douglas (Paternal Grandfather), Flora Campbell (Paternal Grandmother), James Davis (Maternal Grandfather) (Civil Rights Activist), Yvonne Myers (Paternal Grandmother)
She has African American ancestry.
Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas was first discovered as a teenager and later signed to Murder Inc. Records in 2001. That year, she was featured on Fat Joe What Luv? and Ja Rule Always on Time, both of which became two of the biggest hit songs of 2002; Ashanti became the first female artist to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously when Always on Time and What Luv? were at numbers one and two, respectively.
In 2002, Ashanti released her eponymous debut album, which sold over 505,000 copies throughout the U.S. in its first week of release. The album earned her many awards, including eight Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards, and a Grammy Award in 2003 for Best Contemporary RandB Album. The album has since been certified triple platinum in the United States and sold six million copies worldwide. The lead single for the album, Foolish, was a critical and commercial success; it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. With Foolish, she became the second artist (after The Beatles) to have their first three chart entries in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. Ashanti wrote and sang for Jennifer Lopez Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix), which also reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2003, Ashanti released her second album, Chapter II, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 326,000 copies in the U.S. The album went platinum, selling over 1.5 million copies in U.S. since its release. The album singles, Rock wit U (Awww Baby) and Rain On Me, were both commercial successes, peaking at number two and number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, respectively. Chapter II was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary RandB Album, and Rock wit U (Awww Baby) and Rain on Me were each nominated in the categories of Best RandB Song and Best Female RandB Vocal Performance. In November 2003, Ashanti released a Christmas album titled Ashanti Christmas, which was a modest commercial success.
In 2004, Ashanti released her third studio album, Concrete Rose, the title of which took on Tupac Shakur pseudonym The Rose That Grew from Concrete. The album debuted at number seven in the U.S., with first-week sales of 254,000 copies, and eventually became her third platinum certified album. The first single, Only U, reached number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and became her biggest hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at number two. A second single, the ballad Don’t Let Them, garnered little chart success after Def Jam refused to fund a music video due to Irv Gotti legal troubles during his money laundering trial. Her subsequent albums, including The Declaration (2008) and Braveheart (2014), the latter of which was released independently, were less successful. Throughout her career, Ashanti has sold over 15 million records worldwide.
Aside from music, Ashanti has also acted in various productions. In 2005, she made her feature film debut in Coach Carter alongside Samuel L. Jackson, as well as starring as Dorothy Gale in the made-for-television film The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, which pulled in nearly 8 million viewers when it premiered. She has since appeared in the films John Tucker Must Die (2006) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007).
Her mother, Tina Douglas, is a former dance teacher, and her father, Ken-Kaide Thomas Douglas, is a former singer. Her mother named her after the Ashanti Empire in Ghana; in this nation, women had power and influence, and Tina wanted Ashanti to follow that model. Her grandfather, James, was a civil rights activist who associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s.
Ashanti mother discovered her full singing potential when she overheard Ashanti singing Mary J. Blige Reminisce at age 12. While attending high school, she began to write songs. As a teenager, she performed in a local talent show and at several small festivals. She got her first taste of acting as a child extra in Spike Lee Malcolm X (1992) and in Ted Demme Who the Man?. She also had a couple of minor appearances in music videos, such as KRS-One MC Act Like They Don’t Know as well as 8-Off Ghetto Girl.
Ashanti struggled to find success as a singer after being courted by several record labels, including Bad Boy and Jive. Despite this, she continued to perform in and around New York and began hanging out at the Murder Inc. recording studio, hoping for a big break.
2001–03: Ashanti, Chapter II and Ashanti Christmas
Ashanti was first noticed by Irv Gotti because of her vocal skills. He asked her to pen hooks for his rap artists and to perform with them in duets. Ashanti provided the melodic response to their call. Ashanti was first featured as a background vocalist on rapper Big Pun song How We Roll. In the same year, Ashanti was featured on fellow labelmate Cadillac Tah 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 2001 hip hop remake of Madonna Justify My Love and on the solo track When a Man Does Wrong. She was featured on Fat Joe What Luv? and Ja Rule Always on Time. What 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 simultaneously when Always on Time and What Luv? were at numbers one and two, respectively.
Following the success of her collaborations with Ja Rule and Fat Joe, Ashanti released her debut single, Foolish, which contains a sample of the 1983 song Stay with Me by DeBarge (also utilized by The Notorious B.I.G. in his 1995 single One More Chance, and by Big L in MVP). This is her biggest success to date, spending ten weeks atop 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 self-titled debut album, Ashanti, was released on Irv Gotti Murder Inc. record label in April 2002. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart. The album has been certified triple platinum in the United States and sold six million copies worldwide. Ashanti wrote the album twelve tracks, most of which were written on the spot in the studio. Ashanti follow-up singles, Happy and Baby, were not as successful as her debut single but peaked inside the top ten and top twenty in the U.S., respectively. Ashanti debut album earned her many awards, including eight Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards, and a Grammy Award in 2003 for Best Contemporary RandB Album. Ashanti was the first artist to win Best Contemporary RandB Album before the category was last awarded in 2011. She was nominated as Best New Artist and Foolish was nominated in the Best Female RandB Vocal Performance category. She also received a Comet Award and two Soul Train Music Awards that same year.
Ashanti became the subject of controversy when it was announced that she would receive the Soul Train Aretha Franklin Award for Entertainer of the Year, a high school student took offense and started an on-line petition against her, explaining to The Seattle Times that she was too new to deserve the award. Nearly 30,000 people agreed with him, signing the petition. Many said that established artists such as Mary J. Blige and Missy Misdemeanor Elliott 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 Patti LaBelle, who stated she a baby and we have to support our babies.
In July 2003, Ashanti released her second album, Chapter II, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 326,000 copies in the U.S. The album went platinum, selling over 1.5 million copies in the U.S. Chapter II first single, Rock wit U (Awww Baby), became a hit, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. Its video, which showed Ashanti in a bikini frolicking on a beach and riding an elephant, was nominated for two 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. A remix of the song contains interpolations of Michael Jackson Rock with You. The second single, Rain on Me, reached the number-seven spot on the Hot 100 and number two on the Hot 100 RandB Songs chart. Chapter II was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary RandB Album, and Rock wit U (Awww Baby) and Rain on Me were nominated in the categories of Best RandB Song and Best Female RandB Vocal Performance, respectively. 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. She received a Lifetime Channel Achievement Award for her message speaking out against domestic violence. That same year, she began dating rapper Nelly.
In November 2003, Ashanti released a Christmas album titled Ashanti Christmas. It contained 10 Christmas songs and was a modest commercial success and sold just around 100,000 units in the U.S. The album peaked at #160 in the Billboard Charts.
2004–07: Concrete Rose, Collectibles by Ashanti and acting
Before Concrete Rose was released, Ashanti did some major promotion for her single Only U, when she premiered it at the 2004 Vibe Music Awards. She featured on Wonderful—with Ja Rule and R. Kelly—that year, which peaked at number five in the U.S. and at number one in the UK. In December 2004, Ashanti released her third studio album, Concrete Rose, the title of which took on Tupac Shakur pseudonym The Rose That Grew from Concrete. The album debuted at number seven in the U.S., with first-week sales of 254,000 copies, and eventually became her third platinum certified album. The first single, Only U, reached number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and became her biggest hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at number two. A second single, the ballad Don’t Let Them, garnered little chart success after Def Jam refused to fund a music video due to Irv Gotti legal troubles during his money laundering trial. The single was released only in the U.S., where it failed to chart, and the UK, where it reached the lower end of the top forty. After the release of Concrete Rose, Ashanti released the DVD Ashanti: The Making of a Star, which was available only for a limited time. The deluxe DVD includes exclusive photo and video shoot footage, music from the albums Ashanti, Chapter II and Concrete Rose, special concert footage, unreleased childhood school performances and behind-the-scenes interviews with family, friends, and fans.
In 2005, Ashanti focused more on her acting career, making her feature film acting debut in the film Coach Carter alongside Samuel L. Jackson, as well as starring as Dorothy Gale in the made-for-television film The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, which pulled in nearly 8 million viewers when it premiered. In Coach Carter, 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 $67 million domestically. Later in 2005, Ashanti was invited to Oprah Winfrey Legends Ball, which honored some of the most influential and legendary African American women of the twentieth century in the fields of art, entertainment, and civil rights. In December 2005, Ashanti released a remix album of Concrete Rose titled Collectables by Ashanti. The album was an opportunity for her to fulfill her contract with Def Jam (and have the option of working with another label), and did not fare well on the charts.
In 2006, she starred in the teen comedy John Tucker Must Die, which opened and peaked at number three at the U.S. box office (competing with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Chest and Miami Vice) and grossed $68,818,076 worldwide. In 2007, she played a supporting role in the action film Resident Evil: Extinction (2007).
2008–10: The Declaration, departure from The Inc. and The Wiz
Her fourth studio album, The Declaration, was released on June 3, 2008, and sold 86,000 units its first week of release, the lowest first-week sales for any of Ashanti studio albums. The first single was to be The Way That I Love You, which was released to radio and digital outlets in January 2008, was referred to as the first single in press material and media reports. It reached number two on the Hot RandB/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number thirty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ashanti first song to reach the top forty since Only U in 2004. Body On Me was recorded not only for Ashanti The Declaration, but also for Nelly fifth studio album Brass Knuckles; it was a modest commercial success, reaching number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In May 2009, Irv Gotti announced that he was officially releasing Ashanti from The Inc. Records, stating that the relationship has run its course. On September 24, 2009, Ashanti announced her fifth studio album would be released from her new label, Written Entertainment.
Ashanti headlined the cast of The Wiz in the New York City Center Encores! Summer Stars staging from June 12 to July 5, 2009. Ashanti role as Dorothy received mixed reviews from critics as most praised her vocals but was less pleased with her acting ability, though Entertainment Weekly praised her performance. Though the first night was sold out, some of the other shows were unable to match its success.
2011–14: Hiatus and Braveheart
After a four-year hiatus, Ashanti released the song Never Too Far Away, which was featured in Morgan Creek film Dream House starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz with Naomi Watts. The lead single from her fifth studio album, The Woman You Love featuring American rapper Busta Rhymes, was released online on December 15, 2011. Ashanti teamed up with Meek Mill and French Montana for the second single No One Greater, which was produced by 7 Aurelius, Irv Gotti and Chink Santana. In April 2013, she released another single called Never Should Have, which later won Best Independent RandB/Soul Performance at the 2013 Soul Train Awards. A music video for the track was also released.
In November 2012, it was reported that she had landed her first series regular role in the seventh season of Army Wives in which she played Latasha Montclair. The series was cancelled on September 24, 2013. In the fall of 2013, she appeared in a guest spot on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit alongside Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks. She starred in the Lifetime film Christmas in the City which premiered on December 7, 2013.
In August 2013, Ashanti announced her plans to work with Ja Rule again, who’d been released from prison in July of that year after a six-year sentence stemming from a gun charge. On January 8, 2014, she revealed the official cover art and release date for Braveheart, her fifth album, which was released on March 4, 2014. In January 2014, Ashanti shot the video for the official first single from Braveheart titled I Got It featuring Rick Ross. The video was shot in Miami, Florida, and was directed by Eif Rivera. In July, Ashanti announced that the second official single from BraveHeart would be Early in the Morning featuring French Montana. Upon release, the album garnered favorable reviews, with music critics describing Braveheart sound as an evolution of RandB and praising the themes of empowerment, but criticizing the romantic cliches and lack of interesting moments on the album. On the charts, Braveheart opened at number ten on the U.S. Billboard 200, becoming Ashanti fifth consecutive top-ten album, as well as her first Independent Albums chart topper. It also debuted in the top-thirty of the UK RandB Albums Chart and top-forty of the UK Indie Albums Chart.
2015–present: New upcoming music
In 2015, she announced that she has been working on new music for her sixth album, with an unknown release date. Ashanti also teamed with Michelle Obama and her Let Move campaign to spread awareness of drinking water with her new video and song Let Go. In 2016, she appeared on The Hamilton Mixtape, singing Helpless, in which Eliza is introduced to Hamilton, whose part was rapped by Ja Rule.
In 2017, she announced her sixth studio album, set to be released in 2018. On November 6, 2017, she released the first single, “Say Less” feat. Ty Dolla $ign.
In June 2018, it was confirmed by Ashanti that both she and Ja Rule will be working on a collaborative album.
Ashanti has a lyric soprano voice type. Critics have referred to her voice as pretty and her soprano as sultry and sweet but slight. Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic noted her reputation for using her swooning voice in duets with Big Pun, Fat Joe, and Ja Rule. As a young girl Ashanti was influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tupac Shakur, but she cites Mary J. Blige as the main reason she wanted to pursue a singing career.
After Blige, Ashanti cites Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Prince, Madonna, Tupac Shakur, Ella Fitzgerald, Smokey Robinson, Donna Summer, and Blue Magic as further musical influences.
In September 2009, Ashanti, along with other artists, including Mariah Carey, Beyonce, and Mary J. Blige, sang Just Stand Up! as a fundraiser for the Stand Up to Cancer television special, which aired simultaneously on ABC, NBC and CBS, and helped raise $100 million for cancer research.
Ashanti is represented by Jersey City-based Emancipated Talent.
She is managed by her mother Tina Douglas.
Jive, Epic, Def Jam Recordings, Written, E1 Music, Murder Inc. Records
Ashanti has appeared in TV commercials for the following brands –
Pantene Pro-Voice Ad
Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo
CÎROC Ultra-Premium Vodka
In April 2002, Ashanti released her debut studio album, Ashanti. The album went on to sold over 503,000 copies within the first week. The album also helped her win a Grammy Award, 8 Billboard Music Awards, and 2 American Music Awards.
In 1992, Ashanti made her theatrical film debut in the biographical drama, Malcolm X. However, her appearance in the movie wasn’t credited.
Her first credited theatrical role was in the comedy-drama movie, Bouge! in 1997.
First TV Show
As an actress, Ashanti made her first TV show appearance in 2002 in Call Me Crazy episode of the family comedy-drama series, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Ashanti regularly hits the gym to keep herself in the right shape. She tries to tweak her conditioning and strength training workout to get the most out of it. Along with traditional strength training exercises such as bicep curls and dumbbell lunges, she has included a variety of bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups in her workout regime.
She has also included functional training exercises such as tire flips and bear crawls in her workout routine. Plus, she has also included boxing in her daily routine.
For cardio, she likes to jump rope and crunches are her favorites for the core workout.
Ashanti Favorite Things
Jewelry Brand – Laruicci and Lorraine Schwartz
Essential Travel Items – Make-up bag, flats, scarf, and sweats
Clothing Retail Shops – Mixology, Jolie Fleur, Intermix, Scoop and Singer 22
Hotel – Wynn Las Vegas
Perfume – J’adore by Christian Dior
Spa – Spa at Amanresorts properties in Bali, Indonesia
Cosmetic Brands – MAC cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, Make Up For Ever, Tom Ford, Chanel, and NARS
Beauty Icons – Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez
Hairstylists – Kim Kimble, Oscar James, and Eduardo Ponce
Physical Features – Eyes and thighs
Inspirations – Mary J. Blige, Ella Fitzgerald, and Blue Magic
Influences – Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Prince, Madonna, Tupac Shakur, Smokey Robinson, and Donna Summer
With the immense first week sales of her debut album, Ashanti became the first solo female music artist to have sold more than 500k copies in the first week.
She holds the distinction of being the first female artist to be offered a contract by Murder Inc. Records.
In 2005, she released her exclusive fragrance line under the label of Precious Jewel.
In 2005, she was placed on the 13th spot by the FHM magazine in their annual list featuring 100 Sexiest Women in the World. In 2008, she was placed on 37th spot in the similar list.
Her mother had named her after Ghana Ashanti Empire, which was known for the power and influence it offered to women within its territory.
Her mother discovered her singing talent when she was 12 years old. She had heard her sing Mary J. Blige Reminisce.
She started writing songs while she was studying in high school. She also used to perform in small festivals and local talent shows in her teens.
She was discovered by record producer and executive Irv Gotti, who was impressed by her vocal skills. He got her to write hooks for rap artists and perform in duets.
Her first mainstream gig as a rapper was to serve as a background vocalist on Big Pun single, How We Roll.
When her singles Always on Time and What Luv? grabbed top two spots on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, she became the first female artist to achieve this unique distinction.
When it was announced that she would be awarded Soul Train Aretha Franklin Award in 2003, it caused a minor controversy as it was argued that established artists such as Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, and Alicia Keys were more deserving of an award. Around 30,000 people signed the petition to block her win.
In May 2009, Irv Gotti announced that he was releasing Ashanti from his record label. It paved way for Ashanti to release her next album with her own record label, Written Entertainment.
In 2015, she partnered with US First Lady Michelle Obama to support her Let Move campaign, which the first lady had launched to raise awareness of drinking water. Ashanti even recorded Let Go and made a music video to support the campaign.
In September 2009, she collaborated with leading artists such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige to record the single, Just Stand Up! for the TV fundraiser special, Stand Up for Cancer, which raised $100 million for the cancer research.
While growing up, her mother had got her enrolled in a number of dance classes including jazz, ballet, and tap.
At the age of 17, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia with an aim of getting a record deal from Epic Records. However, she failed in her endeavors.
She had signed her first record deal with Jive Records but didn’t release any album with them as they had creative differences with Ashanti as she was adamant about writing her songs on her own.
Visit her official website @ ashantithisisme.com.