Ashanti

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R&B starlet Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas was born in Glen Cove, New York - an affluent Long Island community - on October 13, 1980. Her parents named her after the Ashanti Empire, a wealthy African monarchy that historically afforded equal rights to women. Ashanti showed an affinity for entertainment at an early age, studying ballet and jazz dancing at a magnet high school before moving on to focus on a singing career. She received her first recording contract at age fourteen after performing live for entertainment mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in his office, though the deal with Jive Records eventually fell through due to creative differences.

Puffy's Jive Records wanted to groom Ashanti into a pop artist, but she had no interest in the genre, preferring soul and R&B more in the vein of her childhood idols Mary J. Blige and Ella Fitzgerald. She terminated the contract and returned to high school where she distinguished herself as a star athlete in track and field, catching the attention of talent scouts from distinguished schools like Princeton University and Hampton University. Though Ashanti's athletic ability nabbed her a number of scholarships, she instead opted to take another shot at becoming a singer, signing a contract with Epic Records immediately after graduation in 1998.

Like her experiment with Jive Records four years earlier, her deal with Epic turned sour after the label failed to promote her and Ashanti soon found herself away from Epic and in the studio with gangsta rap mastermind Irv Gotti, CEO of The Inc. (formerly known as Murder Inc.) Records. Gotti used Ashanti to pen songs for a number of artists, and eventually moved to using her as a supporting female hook in songs alongside prominent rap artists like Fat Joe, Ja Rule, and Big Pun. Impressed with hear early work with the Murder Inc. crew, Gotti offered Ashanti a full record contract, releasing her first selftitled album Ashanti in 2002.

Ashanti proved to be a bigger hit than anyone at the label could have anticipated, rising to the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 and selling over four million copies domestically. The seventeen-track debut won Ashanti a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2003 - not bad for a debut album. Her second album, 2003's Chapter II, fared similarly well, selling over two million copies and producing a number of successful singles, among them "Rock Wit U" and "Rain On Me". Though far from unsuccessful, Ashanti's third album (2004's Concrete Rose) failed to perform as well as her first two records, selling just over one million copies worldwide and fielding only one charting single ("Only U").

She took a break from recording after the release of Concrete Rose, instead adopting a rigorous international touring schedule and dabbling with acting, securing a small role in the 2005 Samuel L. Jackson drama Coach Carter. She has since appeared in a number of Hollywood projects, among them John Tucker Must Die and Resident Evil: Extinction. Ashanti released her most recent album The Declaration in 2008; though only a few months old, the album has already achieved platinum status and spawned a number of successful singles, among them "Body On Me" and "Good Good".

From Discogs:

Born: October 13, 1980, Glen Cove, Long Island, New York.Ashanti Douglas is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, dancer, model, and fashion designer who rose to fame in the early 2000s. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous Grammy Award-winning debut album Ashanti which featured the hit song "Foolish", and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release in the U.S.She was also the first female to occupy the top 2 positions on the Billboard 100 as a featured female artist. Her hit with Ja Rule "Always On Time" sat at #1 while her Fat Joe collaboration "What's Luv?" was at #2.

From Lastfm:

Ashanti is a name of, at least, two artists:

1. A popular R&B singer from Glen Cove, New York

2. A latin jazz group from Berklee, Massachusetts 1) Ashanti (born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas on October 13, 1980 in Glen Cove, New York, United States), is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, model & fashion designer who has been performing since 2000. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous Grammy Award-winning debut album Ashanti which featured the hit song Foolish.

Read more about Ashanti on Last.fm.

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From Wikipedia:

Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas (born October 13, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, dancer, and model who rose to fame in the early 2000s. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous Grammy Award-winning debut album Ashanti which featured the hit song "Foolish", and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release in the U.S. in April 2002. The album set a Soundscan record as the biggest opening week sales for a new female artist, outselling debuts by Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill. In the same week, she became the first female performer to simultaneously hold the top two places on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with "Foolish", and "What's Luv" (with Fat Joe). Ashanti broke records again by having three Top Ten songs Foolish, What's Luv, and Always on Time, with Ja Rule, on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the same week, being the first female to accomplish this feat and being second only to The Beatles. As of 2007, She has sold more than 15 million records worldwide.. Ashanti ended the decade (2000-09) as the third top new R&B artist behind Alicia Keys and Beyonce Knowles.

Ashanti has sung background vocals for Jennifer Lopez on "I'm Real (Murder Remix)" and wrote and sang background on the song "Ain't It Funny" (Murder Remix) sung by Jennifer Lopez, both reaching number one on Billboard Hot 100 , which was also in the top 10 charts at the same time as "Foolish", "Always on Time" (with Ja Rule), and "What's Luv" (with Fat Joe). 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. Within 7 yrs of Ashanti's career, she has scored 15 top 40 hits on the Hot 100. Ashanti has endorsed numerous products including Gap,Herbal Essences and Mudd Jeans.

Ashanti cites Mary J. Blige, Ella Fitzgerald, Yolanda Adams, the Clark Sisters, and Blue Magic as her musical influences. Praised as a gifted songwriter by her peers and critics alike, Ashanti has written/co-written the bulk of all her music. She is currently working on her own publishing company entitled Written Entertainment. She released her fourth studio album entitled The Declaration on June 3, 2008 and is currently in the studio working on her fifth. She also performed the charity tune "Just Stand Up" alongside 14 other female singers for the "Stand Up to Cancer" live television special which helped raise $100 million dollars for cancer research.

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