“Ashanti tested positive for COVID-19 beforehand, and we cannot put anyone at risk in the process,” read a post from the official “Verzuz” account. “First time this has struck us so close to showtime. We apologize to our incredible audience! Get well soon, Ashanti 💜🖤💚 Wear a mask, stay inside, and take COVID-19 seriously. It’s truly affecting our community.”
Ashanti, 40, assured her fans on social media that she was “ok and not in any pain” and was working with “Verzuz” and Apple Music to see if it would be possible for her to continue the battle virtually from home.
“Never in a million years did I think I would get COVID,” Ashanti said while occasionally coughing in a video posted to her Instagram account Saturday. “I’m super bummed. I’m still ready to do it tonight, though… I got my computer set up and I’m super ready to do it, but we don’t think the technical aspect of things is going to be perfect.”
The battle will now take place January 9.
After kicking off their second season last month with an epic musical battle between Gucci Mane and Jeezy, “Verzuz” announced earlier this month it would return with another iconic matchup: Ashanti and Cole.
“Yeah, it’s official! The paperwork is IN,” the show announced Friday on Instagram. “It’s a legendary Ladies Night on Saturday December 12th with @ashanti and @keyshiacole. Which Libra you got?!”
“Verzuz,” the webcast series created in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic by legendary producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, began as a virtual DJ battle but has since evolved into must-see appointment viewing for music fans thanks to its nostalgia factor and behind-the-scenes appeal featuring a range of different musical styles, including R&B, hip-hop, gospel and dancehall.
Notable battles have included Brandy and Monica, Ludacris and Nelly, Teddy Riley and Babyface, and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
During an interview with GQ published Nov. 19, the stars explained how the series was born after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders shut down clubs, leading people to look for things to entertain themselves with online – and people ate it up. GQ reports more than 20,000 people tuned in for the first swapping of stories and songs, which led the series to have its own official page and following participants.
Everything you need to know about Verzuz, including the latest battle with Jeezy, Gucci Mane
Speaking to The Associated Press in April, Timbaland explained the lineup process.
“Me and Swizz sit down and we really kind of curate the matches well. We try to do the unpredictable, not what people predict. And that comes with a lot of work on me and Swizz’s part,” he said. “We have to make a lot of phone calls to get these celebrations lined up. It’s a process.”
Though no official winner is called at the end of the night, usually viewers share their own picks on social media.
Contributing: Rasha Ali and Sara M. Moniuszko