Ashanti Douglas, Topping the Charts and Helping Frontline Workers

File: Ashanti 2012.jpg” by MoniqueTatum is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

| Written by Melony F. Carter | February 14, 2021|

Grammy award winner, actress, songwriter, and student of professional dance— Ashanti Douglas was born October 13, 1980 in the small city of Glen Cove, not far from Long Island, New York.

Ascending From Dance to Music

With a strong foundation in performance arts, she studied at the school of Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center. Ashanti’s mother, now “momager” Tina Douglas and father, Kincaid Douglas had allowed Ashanti to express herself as a talented dancer.

Soon her dedication would yield results, allowing her to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater. As a youth, Ashanti would go on to earn a spot in the Disney TV movie, “Polly” for director and choreographer Debbie Allen.

Cultivated to dance, at eleven, Ashanti’s mother was convinced her daughter was born to be a star. One day upon overhearing Ashanti singing an acapella version of Mary J Blige’s, song, “Reminisce” Tina believed she was meant to sing.

The Record Label’s Lead Vocalist  

An honor student in high school, Ashanti was offered athletic and academic scholarships for Princeton University and Hampton University. But it was her passion for a career in music that drove her to continue pursuing a record deal. For her, to nestle her R & B techniques with hip-hop and rap, would allow her to standout. Ashanti searched for the right record label. After leaving Def Jam she signed with gangster label, Murder Inc. becoming the first lead vocalist. With the chance to flex, Ashanti showcased her talent on the chorus “How We Roll” with artist Big Pun.

Topping the Billboard Charts

Confident, that Ashanti was ready for the mainstream, executive record producer Irv Gotti, decided it was time for the songstress to release her own album, “Ashanti”.

In April of 2002, with hits like “Always on Time” featuring Ja Rule, and so forth, Ashanti was the first artist since the Beatles, to have two songs, “Foolish” and “What’s Luv?” in the Hot 100 Billboard top ten— alongside, the third, that she wrote for singer, Jennifer Lopez, “Ain’t It Funny” in the first week of her album release.

Acting, Awards and Philanthropy

Holding over 73 acting credits and the recipient of many awards, Ashanti has appeared in role such as, the film Coach Carter (2005), Malcolm X (1992), John Tucker Must Die (2006) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). She has also appeared in the TV series Proud Family, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. 

Most recently, today, Ashanti Douglas, during the pandemic— has reached out in support of frontline workers in New York Hospitals by providing 30,000 N95 masks and 400 breakfasts from “Beyond Meat and Dunkin’ Donuts,” vegan breakfasts sandwiches. She has also released her new single, “I Want You” (2021) which is already streaming on most social media platforms.   

Cited Works:

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Ashanti.” Encyclopedia Britannica, February 14, 2021 https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/music-popular-and-jazz-biographies/ashanti-singer

Staff Writer, Los Angeles, CA, Enjoli, Audrey of Live Kindly. “Ashanti Supports Frontline Workers With Free Vegan Meat.” MAY 1ST, 2020 https://www.livekindly.co/ashanti-frontline-workers-vegan-meat/

An Original Influencer, Cicely Tyson

| Written by Melony F. Carter | February 7, 2021|

A Broadway performer, a multi-generational award-winning actress, a former Ebony magazine model, the dignified Cicely Tyson, (1924 – 2021) was a pathfinder.   

Since the early 1950’s— a prominent figure in the film community, Cicely Tyson, purposefully made it her true intention to represent a positive image of Black women in film and media. An early trendsetter and supporter of the natural hair movement, Cicely, was one of the first women to wear an afro on the TV series East Side West Side (1963). She would later go on to wear cornrows in the film Sounder (1972), which gained her a nomination for best actress for an Academy Award.  

As an actress, Cicely considered roles that displayed the progression of the Civil Rights movement to be necessary. In 1978, she went on to act in both TV mini-series King as Coretta Scott King, and as Harriet Tubman in A Woman Called Moses.

She was best known for roles like, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1994) which won her two Emmy Awards, Roots (1977), Harlem (1997), and the 1968 film version of Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and her Emmy winning TV movie Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994).  

Growing up in Harlem, Cicely’s parents were immigrants from the Caribbean island of Nevis that helped to ground her in her religious roots.  

With a strong passion in gospel music, she eventually developed her very own Cicely Tyson Community School for Performing and Fine Arts located in East Orange, NJ. In 2015— Tyler Perry, opening his 330-acre lot production facility in the heart of Atlanta, named one of his sound stages after Cicely Tyson in her honor.  

Cited:

Biography, Editors of Biography. “Cicely Tyson.” Biography, January 28, 2021. https://www.biography.com/actor/cicely-tyson

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Cicely Tyson.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 28, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cicely-Tyson.