It's been 15 years since Ashanti first appeared -- with her own single "when A Man Does Wrong," with a song on "The Fast And The Furious" soundtrack, an appearance on a hip-hop version of Madonna's "Justify My Love and features on songs by rappers Fat Joe and Ja Rule.
It was an auspicious start, and the New York-born singer and actress hasn't slowed down since, either in singing or acting.
"It's such an amazing feeling. I'm super humble and just really, really grateful," Ashanti (nee Douglas), 35, says by phone from New YOrk City. "It doesn't really hit me until I see people writing stuff about the first album and I'm like, 'Omigod, I was 19 or 20, 21, whatever. It really is surreal.
"So I'm just really, really grateful. I've gone through a lot -- Everyone in life has gone through peaks and valleys, highs and lows. To still be here putting on great shows and putting out great records is a true blessing."
These days Ashanti describes herself as "extremely focused and about to embark on even more greatness." On the acting side she's executive produced and stars in an urban drama called "Stuck," which is currently in post-production, and also has several TV projects in the works. Meanwhile she's been busy recording her sixth album, mostly in Los Angeles, with plans to release it before the end of the year.
"I have a good, solid, 15 or 16 songs, and I'm probably in love with six or seven of them," she says. "I'm working with different people, different sounds, different things, just kind of going places I haven't gone before. Being an adult now, times are different. People want more of YOU. There are certainly things that five years ago there's no way anyone would've gotten me to do for records and now I'm comfortable with it.
"So I'm very happy. I can't wait for people to hear this new music."
Ashanti and the Marcus Douglas Band featuring Kiko
8 .m. Saturday, Aug. 20
SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $40-$53.
Call 800-745-3000 or visit soundboarddetroit.com.
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