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- Genre: Pop, Hip Hop/Rap, Electronic, R&B/Soul, Dance Pop, Hip Hop, Hip Pop, Neo Soul, Pop Christmas, Pop Rap, R&B, Rap, Soul Christmas, Soul, Urban Contemporary
Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas (born October 13, 1980), known simply as Ashanti, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress. Ashanti is known for her eponymous debut album, which featured the hit song "Foolish", and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release throughout the U.S. in April 2002. In 2003, the self-titled debut album won Ashanti her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B album. Her second release continued her success and platinum certifications throughout the 2000s and her hit singles.
Ashanti wrote and sang background on Jennifer Lopez's "Ain't It Funny (Murder Remix)", which reached number one on Billboard Hot 100, which was also in the top 10 chart at the same time as "Foolish", "Always on Time" (with Ja Rule), and "What's Luv?" (with Fat Joe). Later that year, she was acclaimed as the "Princess Of Hip-Hop & R&B" by her label and capped off her successful debut by winning eight Billboard awards and two American Music Awards.
Ashanti cites Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Tupac Shakur, Mary J. Blige, Ella Fitzgerald, Smokey Robinson, Donna Summer, and Blue Magic as her musical influences. She is currently working on her own publishing company titled Written Entertainment.
Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas was born on October 13, 1980, in Glen Cove, New York. 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 have power and influence, and Tina wanted her daughter to follow that model. Her grandfather, James, was a civil rights activist who associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 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, Jomecia Moore and Phylicia Rashad.
When she was three years old, Ashanti sang in a gospel choir called "Having Some Fun and the Handsome Pigeons," but her mother discovered her full singing potential when she overheard Ashanti singing Mary J. Blige's "Reminisce" at age 12. By the time Ashanti hit puberty, her mother was sending out demo tapes of her singing and dancing. The family could not afford to go to a studio and record a formal demo, so when labels called, Ashanti would have to sing 'I'm a little teapot' in front of the record company executives. While attending high school, she 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 performed Yolanda Adams's "More Than a Melody". She also appeared in a number of big-name music videos, in addition to other dance work.
Ashanti got her first taste of acting as a child extra in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992) and in Who's the Man?. She also started as a dancer in the Disney TV film Polly. She was also one of the students in the 3-2-1 Contact Extra, What Kids Want To Know About Sex and Growing Up. She also had a couple of minor appearances in music videos, such as KRS-One's "MC's Act Like They Don't Know" as well as 8-Off's "Ghetto Girl".
When Ashanti was 16, she was discovered by P.Diddy's 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 had her sign to a development deal. In the end, due to a bad contract, Ashanti did not sign with Diddy. This ultimately led to a record deal with Jive Records in 1997. This relationship soured when Jive tried to make Ashanti into a pop singer. Ashanti subsequently involved herself in schoolwork, cheerleading, and running on her school's track team. She belonged to the English club where she began writing poetry. She was also in the Drama club and performed in a few plays. She put college pursuits aside when Epic Records approached her with a contract in 1998. However, the label's management changes quickly made Ashanti a low priority. She continued to perform at local New York clubs and began hanging out at the Murder Inc. recording studio, hoping for another big break.
2001–03: Ashanti, Chapter II and Ashanti's Christmas
Ashanti was first noticed by Irv Gotti because of her vocal skills. Ashanti initially asked him to produce a few demo songs for her to record so she could say she had some strong tracks by the big time producer but Gotti had a different idea. 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'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 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 simultaneously when "Always on Time" and "What's 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 song 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's self-titled debut album, Ashanti, was released on Irv Gotti's 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's twelve tracks, most of which were written on the spot in the studio. 2002 saw the birth of the careers of many new R&B artists and 'rivals' against Ashanti including Amerie, Tweet, and Nivea. Ashanti's dominance of the R&B world was certified as she had a song in the top ten of the R&B/hip-hop charts every week from January to November 2002. Ashanti's 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. During mid-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 in 2003 for Best Contemporary R&B Album. She was nominated as Best New Artist and "Foolish" was nominated in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category. FHM credited her as the "Sexiest Woman in Music" in 2002. 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 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 and features contemporary Disney songs. Ashanti and her sister sang "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney film Pocahontas. By early 2003, Ashanti had performed at every major award show there was: Soul Train Awards, Grammy's, BET Awards, MTV Awards and the American Music Awards. In 2003, Ja Rule and Ashanti collaborated on another hit song, "Mesmerize", the music video for which was a parody of a scene from the film Grease. In February 2003, the self-titled debut album had her win her first Grammy award for Best Contemporary R&B album. 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).
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 U.S. The album's success was somewhat eclipsed, however, by all the negative drama surrounding the Murder Inc. camp at the time (i.e., the FBI investigation and the G-Unit feuding). Chapter II's 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 named Bubbles, was nominated for two 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. A remix of the song contains interpolations of Michael Jackson's "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 R&B Songs chart. Chapter II was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album, and "Rock wit U (Awww Baby)" and "Rain on Me" were nominated in the categories of Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, respectively. At the end of 2003 in November, Ashanti performed at The American Music Awards and was nominated in two categories. 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. Her 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, brought the film and her cause to the attention of millions of fans. It also helped to raise money for the cause, with proceeds from the $5 mini-disc going toward helping to stop domestic violence. She received a Lifetime Channel Achievement Award for her message speaking out against domestic violence. Ashanti was scheduled to join Mariah Carey on the U.S. leg of her Charmbracelet World Tour, but due to scheduling issues, she, instead, became the opening act for R. Kelly's five-date tour in mid-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) on "Do I Do", and the Isley Brothers on "That Lady". That same year, she began dating rapper Nelly.
In November 2003, Ashanti's Christmas album, Ashanti's Christmas. The album containing 10 Christmas songs, six classic covers and four she wrote herself. To coincide with the release Ashanti premiered a "Christmas Medley" video for the album. While on BET's 106 & Park, Ashanti said the concept of the Christmas Album came from a guest spot she did on Steve Harvey's radio show. While playing a game with Stevie Wonder, he began playing Christmas medleys on the piano and Ashanti began singing them, giving her label head the idea to push for a Christmas album. Ashanti went into the studio to record the album during the summer of 2003. Ashanti's Christmas was released that October and sold just around 100,000 units in the U.S.
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. 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' single "I'm Coming Out", and she performed a soul-influenced rendition of Chaka Khan's funk driven "Ain't Nobody". Later that year Ashanti collaborated with male R&B newcomer and labelmate Lloyd on the song "Southside", which 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 UK, and "Jimmy Choo" with rapper Shyne reached number fifty-five on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 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 "Wake Up Everybody" in support of ACT, the left-leaning political action committee.
In December 2004, Ashanti released her third studio album, Concrete Rose, the title of which took on Tupac Shakur's 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, the gold-certified "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's legal troubles during his money laundering trial. Ashanti used her own money to deliver the second video to her fans, with Gotti acting as director. 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. In 2005, Ashanti graced the stage at the MTV Japan Music Awards, where she performed her hit single, Only U. She also won a Style award during the show. She performed alongside huge acts like Mariah Carey and Korean star Rain. 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. The DVD was also repackaged along with the film Coach Carter. Later in 2005, Ashanti was invited to Oprah Winfrey's 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. It features six remixes of previously released tracks and four newly recorded songs, including the single "Still on It", which features rappers Paul Wall and Method Man. 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 January 2005, she made her feature film acting debut in the film Coach Carter alongside Samuel L. Jackson, which debuted at number one opening weekend. 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 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 number three at the U.S. box office (competing with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Miami Vice) and grossed $68,818,076 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. Ashanti can also be found on Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7 episode 14: "First Date" and on Sabrina the Teenage Witch season 7 episode 3: "Call Me Crazy". In 2007, Ashanti appeared in the sci-fi horror action Resident Evil: Extinction as a nurse named Betty. The film entered at number one at the box office grossing $53,678,580 in its opening week. To date the movie has grossed $83,648,679 at the US box office and around $197,713,442 worldwide. This was Ashanti's second number one movie, the other being Coach Carter. In 2006, Ashanti announced that she would release a book titled Ashanti Style with Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Disney's Hyperion Books for Children. The book, which was being touted as Ashanti's "life and style guide", was a behind-the-scenes look into her style, both in her personal and professional life. The book was originally planned for a late-2007 release, but as of April 2008 no release date had been announced. Another venture Ashanti has enlisted in is her own handbags and pocketbook, revealed in 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, which were the lowest first week sales for any of Ashanti's studio albums. In mid-2007, MTV News reported that the first single from The Declaration was "Switch", which was produced by Shy Carter and released digitally in the United States on July 24, 2007. It was later reported that "Switch" may not be included on the album's track listing, and that the first single would be "Hey Baby (After the Club)" it was released to radio and digital outlets on October 16. The song, which does not appear on the U.S. editions of the album, peaked at number eighty-seven on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "The Way That I Love You", 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 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number thirty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ashanti's first song to reach the top forty since "Only U" in 2004. "Body On Me" was recorded not only for Ashanti's The Declaration, but also for Nelly's fifth studio album Brass Knuckles. The track is produced by Akon and Giorgio Tuinfort. It went to number one on Billboard's Hot Videoclip Tracks chart in its first week, becoming the first number one single from Nelly's album."Good Good" was released to urban radio stations on July 16, 2008. The song contains elements of Elton John's 1974 single "Bennie and the Jets", and has the same melody arrangement as Michael Jackson's "The Girl Is Mine". In July 2008, Ashanti was named an ambassador of tourism for Nassau County, Long Island.
In May 2009, Irv Gotti announced that he was officially releasing Ashanti from The Inc. Records, stating that "The relationship has run its course. The chemistry of what's needed — we're in two totally different places. You're talking to somebody that took her and shaped and molded her and put her out there for the world, and it blew up. We [hold the record] for the [fastest] selling debut by a female R&B artist — 503 [thousand]. We did it! My views and philosophies and her views and philosophies are not meeting up." Gotti also admitted that he and Ashanti have not spoken to each other in a long time. A rep for Ashanti did not respond. 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's role as Dorothy has since received mixed reviews from critics as most praised her vocals but was less pleased with her acting ability. BET and Entertainment Weekly both praised the singer's performance as The New York Post and New York Times gave lukewarm reviews. Though the first night was sold out, some of the other shows were unable to follow its success. On October 27, 2008, Ashanti took part in The Yellow Brick Road Not Taken, a one night only concert to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Wicked, featuring songs written by Stephen Schwartz, that were cut from the show.
2011–present: Braveheart, and Chapter VI
Ashanti confirmed via Twitter that she was currently in the studio working on her fifth album, that is being released through her own record label Written Entertainment. Ashanti was rumored to be working with a slew of producers and artist, thus far this is all that has been verified... LT Hutton, Dr. Dre, Game, Theron Feemster aka Neff-U, Cool & Dre, Warryn Campbell, Carvin & Ivan, Common, Darkchild and Tank who co-wrote and co-produced with her the song Paradise. The release date was initially April 17, 2012, however, the release date got pushed back to June 19, 2012. It was later pushed back yet again, with a new release date of August 28, 2012. The album then got pushed back again to January 29, 2013. In July 2011 a promo picture was released, rap-up revealed she had been in the studio with big names including Dr. Dre, Game, and Lil Wayne, and Ashanti had said that a single was coming "very soon". Single titles include "Paradise" and "She Can't." R. Kelly joins the singer on a track titled "That's What We Do", whilst Keyshia Cole appears on "Woman to Woman". Ashanti released her first song in four years, "Never Too Far Away", which was featured in Morgan Creek's film Dream House starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz with Naomi Watts. Ashanti also confirmed via her Twitter account that the song will be on her upcoming fifth album but is not her first single. Ashanti announced the title of the first single from her fifth studio album, BraveHeart, via NBC Today Show, revealing it to be called 'No Good', however the title was later changed to "The Woman You Love". 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 said on her official Twitter account that the song would be released onto iTunes on 16 December with a new promo picture. Ashanti released via UStream snippets of some songs from her upcoming 5th studio album which included "The Woman You Love", "Never Too Far Away", "She Can't", "Paradise", "Blow" and "Get Lost Together". Ashanti teamed up with Meek Mill and French Montana for the anticipated second single "No One Greater", which was produced by 7 Aurelius, Irv Gotti and Chink Santana. The track was leaked in June 2012. On October 2, the song "That's What We Do" with R. Kelly was released to iTunes for download. In April 2013 she released another single called "Never Should Have". An music video for the track was also released the same month. 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 & Order: Special Victims Unit alongside Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks. Additionally, her single "Never Should Have" won "Best Independent R&B/Soul Performance" at the 2013 Soul Train Awards and has also earned an additional nod at the 2013 MCP Music Awards. She starred in the Lifetime film Christmas in the City which premiered on December 7, 2013. Additionally, she released a holiday EP titled A Wonderful Christmas with Ashanti on digital services.
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, which was released 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. The video was shot in August 2014 and directed by Elf Rivera. She released a full-length (deluxe) version of her holiday album A Wonderful Christmas with Ashanti in October 2014. The following month, she starred in the SyFy film Mutant World.
In 2015, she announced that she has been working on new music for her sixth album Chapter VI to be released in 2016. Ashanti also teamed with Michelle Obama and her Let's Move campaign to spread awareness of drinking water with her new video and song "Let's Go". The song and video go from dehydrated to hydrated the more #DrinkUpAshanti is tweeted on Twitter. On December 2, Ashanti released her newly hydrated single "Let's Go" on iTunes. The video is also available at www.drinkupashanti.com.
Ashanti is known for her lyric soprano voice type. People magazine referred to her voice as "pretty" and her soprano as "sultry" and "sweet but slight." her unique styling of hip-hop soul earned her the title of The Princess of Hip-Hop and R&B, as stated in her song, "Happy." Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic noted her reputation for using her "swooning voice" in duets with Big Pun, Fat Joe and most notably Ja Rule. As a young girl Ashanti was influenced by legendary artists such as 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. "I didn't want to sing only slow songs and I didn't want to be spittin' rhymes. But Mary [J. Blige] put those concepts together. She cleared the way, and now I'm following my own path."
In 2003, Ashanti partnered with 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. In 2008, Ashanti, along with others celebrities, taped a PSA to help stop violence and discrimination towards the LGBT community in response to the death of Lawrence King, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green Junior High School who was shot because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. That same year, she launched a special on-line campaign called "I Declare Me..." with Wal-Mart. The campaign's core is a very personal focus on the self-definition and empowerment of women across the United States, with its home base at Ashanti's official website. The campaign creates a safe and inclusive on-line space to for women to share testimonies on the site. Participants are able to openly declare their own breakthroughs, revelations, struggles and victories in every life area they choose: career, birth, death, relationships, and personal situations. "I Declare Me..." also invites women to a virtual discussion with Ashanti on such issues as voter registration, teen obesity, and other concerns facing women today.
In September 2009, Ashanti, along with other artists Mariah Carey, Beyoncé Knowles, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Miley Cyrus, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Keyshia Cole, Ciara, Leona Lewis, LeAnn Rimes, Busta Rhymes, Cheri Oteri, Flavor Flav, Queen Elizabeth and Carrie Underwood, teamed up for the song "Just Stand Up!". The charity tune for cancer was conceived by Antonio "L.A." Reid, who produced it with longtime creative colleague Babyface. All 15 singers (along with Nicole Scherzinger) shared the stage to perform the song live on Sept. 5 2008 during the "Stand Up to Cancer" television special, which aired simultaneously on ABC, NBC and CBS, and helped raise $100 million for cancer research. As a result of SU2C fund raising endeavors, the SU2C scientific advisory committee, overseen by the American Association for Cancer Research was able to award 73.6 million dollars towards novel, groundbreaking cancer research in 2009.
In November 2009, Ashanti joined the crew of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The singer assisted in the rebuilding of the Powell Family home in Buffalo, New York. The efforts from the show expanded significantly to include not just the family home but the entire neighborhood surrounding it. The episode aired January 24, 2010.
Ashanti is featured on the 19-track compilation album "Songs For a Healthier America", a collaborative project by the Partnership for a Healthier America, whose honorary chair First Lady Michelle Obama, and Hip Hop Public Health. Her song "Just Believe" also features Artie Green, Gerry Gunn, Robbie Nova and Chauncey Hawkins.
Ashanti has greatly given back to the community. She has a history of supporting good causes. She is affiliated with the Jumpstart reading program, Tupperware Brand and Boys and Girls Club of America.
Ashanti met rapper Nelly at a press conference for the 2003 Grammy Awards on January 1, 2003. Ashanti and Nelly ended their nine-year relationship in December 2012.