Ashanti Tests Positive For Coronavirus Hours Before Her ‘Verzuz’ Battle With Keyshia Cole

The COVID-19 pandemic has led the music industry to innovate and create of new forms of entertainment, such as the popular Verzuz series. R&B stars Ashanti and Keyshia Cole were set to face off in a Verzuz battle for the ages on December 12, but just hours before the event was set to begin, Ashanti took to social media with a devastating message: she tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ashanti | Theo Wargo/WireImage
Ashanti | Theo Wargo/WireImage

R&B ‘Verzuz’ battles are some of the most popular

The Verzuz battle between Ashanti and Keyshia Cole was set to be one of the most popular in the series’ history.

Despite Verzuz‘s hip hop roots, the biggest streams with the most viewers have been the ones between R&B and soul singers. The faceoff between Erykah Badu and Jill Scott earlier this year drew over one million total viewers; Alicia Keys and John Legend’s Juneteenth Verzuz battle attracted a similar-sized audience.

Brandy and Monica‘s Verzuz battle was the biggest Verzuz to date — not just because of the record-breaking 6 million viewers who tuned in, but because it was a cultural moment almost a decade in the making. Brandy and Monica notably have had a rocky public relationship since their 1998 hit collab “The Boy is Mine,” and Verzuz was their opportunity to bury the hatchet once and for all.

Keyshia Cole
Keyshia Cole | Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Ashanti vs. Keyshia Cole was a highly anticipated ‘Verzuz’ battle

The Verzuz battle between Ashanti and Keyshia Cole was set to be a first for the series, as two beloved figures from 2000s R&B — as opposed to singers who debuted in the ’90s — were set to go head-to-head and hit-for-hit.

When Verzuz first debuted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, battles were mainly limited to Instagram Lives between artists who were holed up at home with nowhere else to go. As time went on, Verzuz began hosting in-person matchups with COVID safety in mind. Brandy vs. Monica, Patti LaBelle vs. Gladys Knight, and Jeezy vs. Gucci Mane all took place with the artists together in the same room — seated far apart of course.

Ashanti | Aaron Poole/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Ashanti tested positive for coronavirus hours before the ‘Verzuz’ battle

As has been the case with more recent Verzuz battles, Ashanti and Keyshia Cole were set to face off at a venue in person. But Ashanti’s last-minute announcement that she tested positive for the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in the plans.

“Hey y’all, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I tested positive for COVID-19,” Ashanti said in an Instagram post, adding that she feels “OK and not in any pain.”

The singer even went on to suggest that she still wants to do the battle remotely from her house to protect Cole and all the crew behind the scenes. “I’m actually down to do the Verzuz from my house,” she said plainly. “We’re trying to figure it all out!!!”

Verzuz confirmed in an Instagram post that the battle is postponed until next month. “Ashanti tested positive for COVID-19 beforehand, and we cannot put anyone at risk in the process,” the post read. “First time this has struck us so close to showtime.” The new date for the event is Saturday, January 9, 2021.

“Wear a mask, stay inside, and take COVID-19 seriously,” the post urged fans. “It’s truly affecting our community.”