The daughter of a singer and a dance teacher and the grand-daughter of a civil rights activist who campaigned with Martin Luther King, Ashanti seemed destined for fame from an early age. As a child she had dance lessons and sang with the local church choir and by the time she was in her early teens she was already performing R&B in New York clubs. She sang backing vocals on records by a variety of artists (including Big Pun, Vita, Ja Rule, Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe), and in 2002 she released her debut album Ashanti which she'd written entirely herself; the album included the smash hit Foolish which went on to sell over 6 million copies worldwide. Ahanti followed Foolish with two more Top 10 singles, Happy and Baby, while second album Chapter 11 hit the top of the US album charts in its first week of release, and included the hits Rock Wit U and Rain On Me. The following year she released a Christmas album and collaborated with Nelly and Mario Winans on her next album The Declaration (2007). In 2009, however, Ashanti ended her longstanding relationship with her record company Murder Inc to work on new material and also moved into acting.