- 09:11 AM, Jan 20
American R&B singer Ashanti was born Ashanti Shaquoya Douglas on October 13, 1980, in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, into a musical family, in which her father used to sing and her mother was a former dance instructor. Before becoming a famous singer, she first sang in a gospel choir at age six and took dance lessons. As she grew up into a teen girl, her musical talent also developed, and so did with her physical appearances. During this period of time she danced in a show at Carnegie Hall and in the Disney television musical "Polly." It was in her senior high school that Ashanti sharpened her songwriting skills and explored her talent for creating a story that people could relate to, song after song. Her strong and soulful voice, indeed, got her the attention of industry insiders that brought her to an immediate signing with a management team. She began showcasing her talent with performances at several places, including the Soul Cafe, China Club, Madison Square Garden, Carolines Comedy Club and Greek Fest 2000 at Jones Beach.
It was her peculiar voice and striking look that handed her a recording contract with Jive Records at the age of 14, then again with Epic Records at the age of 17, but neither of them came to fruition. Ashanti later signed to AJM Records and quickly caught the attention of multi-platinum producer Irv Gotti of Murder Inc. who recognized her exceptional singing and writing talents and set the stage for her introduction to the music world. This encounter got Ashanti her first musical performance as a guest vocal on the track "How We Roll" by Big Pun. She then appeared in a series of duets that made her a Stateside star in March 2002, the same period when she was featured on Ja Rule's single "Always On Time". Moreover, she also appeared on other track on Ja's platinum CD, namely "Pain Is Love," and worked with Murder Inc. recording artist Caddillac Tah on his singles "Thug Love" and "Pov City Anthem." After that Ashanti went on releasing a solo track titled "A Man Does Wrong" in addition to being featured on rapper Vita's remake of Madonna's controversial hit "Justify My Love" for the soundtrack of Vin Diesel 2001 movie "The Fast and the Furious."
In early 2002, when, almost simultaneously, Ja Rule released the song "Always On Time" and