Ashanti received one of the highest honors at the 2021 Soul Train Awards. The New York native was honored in her home state with the hallowed Lady Of Soul award, presented by Normani.
Derived from the Ghanaian word, “thank you,” Ashanti’s legacy was celebrated for its heart, essence, individuality, and light. The Grammy-winner, who celebrates the 20 year anniversary of her debut album, was honored in a special video package by Fat Joe, Sevyn Streeter, producer LT Hutton, and Tamar Braxton.
The former Murder Inc. singer-songwriter celebrated the occasion with a beautiful speech. “A lot of people thought that I wouldn’t make it this far,” she said. “Because of my family, my mom, aka the original momager, my sister, my dad, my whole team Ashanti, and my amazing fans, I’m standing here tonight.”
She continued: “Some people may look at my journey and think it was easy, it was not. My career has been filled with so many peaks and valleys and it definitely wasn’t easy. I’ve been blessed to have broken records, won awards, and toured the world.
A venerable legend who continues to redefine herself, Ashanti was aware of her full-circle moment. “In 2002, I received the ‘Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year’ award, and here I am, almost 20 years later receiving this great honor tonight.”
The “Rain on Me” singer closed her speech with a special promise.
“I will continue to keep pushing, keep thriving, keep following my dreams, continue to put music out, provide for my community and support up-and-coming female writers and singers. It’s all about women’s empowerment, y'all!”
Ashanti was also sure to thank her longtime friends and collaborators, Ja Rule and Fat Joe.
After her speech, the singer took the stage and got the crowd on their feet with a medley of her biggest hits. Accompanied by the house band, the “Princess of Hip Hop and R&B” kicked off her performance with “Happy,” before going into “Rain on Me,” and “The Way That I Love You.”
The songstress brought pure nostalgia to the stage when she went into the hit single “Baby.” Fat Joe, who joined her on stage for “What’s Luv,” which proved to be one of the biggest moments of the night. This was only one-upped by Joe’s Verzuz competitor, and longtime friend and collaborator to Ashanti, Ja Rule.
Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for arrived when fellow hip hop legend, Ja Rule, came out for “Always On Time” — proving that the magic and chemistry have never diminished.
In closing out the performance, Ashanti put a stamp on her Lady of Soul distinction by engaging the crowd in singing “Foolish/Unfoolish.”