‘Verzuz’: Ashanti and Keyshia Cole’s Postponed Battle Has a New Date

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Verzuz has been one of the most highly anticipated events for music fans around the world. Ashanti and Keyshia Cole were set to face off in an R&B battle for the ages on December 12, but it was canceled at the last minute after Ashanti announced that she tested positive for the coronavirus.

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

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

Despite Verzuz battles originating with hip hop producers and rappers, the faceoffs between R&B and soul artists have historically been the most popular. Earlier this year, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott drew over one million total viewers; Alicia Keys and John Legend’s Juneteenth Verzuz battle attracted a similarly-sized audience. And Patti LaBelle vs. Gladys Knight brought in over 600,000 viewers at one point.

Brandy and Monica‘s Verzuz battle has been the most successful 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 they patched things up once and for all on the Verzuz stage.

The Verzuz battle between Ashanti and Keyshia Cole would be a first as two R&B divas who debuted in the 2000s would go head-to-head and hit-for-hit for countless adoring fans.

Keyshia Cole attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California | C Flanigan/Getty Images
Keyshia Cole attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California | C Flanigan/Getty Images

Ashanti tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the ‘Verzuz’ battle

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Verzuz was limited to Instagram Lives between artists who were locked down at home. After the entertainment industry started getting back to work, Verzuz began hosting COVID-safe in-person events.

As has been the case with recent Verzuz battles such as Jeezy vs. Gucci Mane, Patti LaBelle vs. Gladys Knight, and Brandy vs. Monica, Ashanti and Cole were set to face off at a venue in person. But Ashanti’s last-minute announcement that she tested positive for the coronavirus just hours before the show threw 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 “Foolish” singer even went on to suggest that she wanted 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 offered. “We’re trying to figure it all out!!!”

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

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

‘Verzuz’ had to postpone the event until 2021

Verzuz confirmed in an Instagram post that the battle between Ashanti and Cole has been postponed to protect the safety of everyone involved in the production. “Ashanti tested positive for COVID-19 beforehand, and we cannot put anyone at risk in the process,” the post read. It was an unprecedented experience for the show: “First time this has struck us so close to showtime.” 

The new date for the event is Saturday, January 9, 2021, giving Ashanti plenty of time to recover and ensure that the iconic Verzuz battle with Cole is as safe as possible.

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