She continued to perform at local New York clubs and began hanging out at the Murder Inc. Ashanti initially asked him to produce a few demo songs for her to record so she could say she had some strong tracks by the big time producer but Gotti had a different idea.
While attending high school, she began to write songs.
As a teenager, she performed in a local talent show and at the Soul Cafe, China Club, Madison Square Garden, Caroline's Comedy Club, and Greek Fest 2000.
In her first major singing performance, Ashanti performed Yolanda Adams's "More Than a Melody".
She also appeared in a number of big-name music videos, in addition to other dance work. After being impressed by her singing ability, Diddy had her sign to a development deal.
She also performed at the 1994 Caribbean Awards and dancing with Judith Jamison of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
Ashanti also performed in the 1989 Disney television film Polly alongside stars Keshia Knight Pulliam, Jomecia Moore and Phylicia Rashad.
When she was three years old, Ashanti sang in a gospel choir called "Having Some Fun and the Handsome Pigeons," but her mother discovered her full singing potential when she overheard Ashanti singing Mary J. By the time Ashanti hit puberty, her mother was sending out demo tapes of her singing and dancing.
The family could not afford to go to a studio and record a formal demo, so when labels called, Ashanti would have to sing 'I'm a little teapot' in front of the record company executives.
This relationship soured when Jive tried to make Ashanti into a pop singer.
Ashanti subsequently involved herself in schoolwork, cheerleading, and running on her school's track team.
Ashanti went to Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, where she studied different dance styles, including tap, jazz, ballet, African, modern, and hip hop.