Ashanti’s Energetic Performance Sparks Hope for the Holidays Benefit Concert

Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress Ashanti performed a high-energy set before an intimate gathering of faithful fans who came out to support the Hope For The Holidays benefit concert that took place Saturday, April 16, at Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida.

This was a benefit concert that featured many Atlanta-based artists and groups that was supposed to take place last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans. Instead, the show was rescheduled and happened before a faithful group of fans at the half-full Silver Spurs Arena on a beautiful Orlando evening. Things kicked off at exactly 8:00 p.m., with everyone in attendance dancing and on their feet the entire time; the concert ending at exactly 12:30 a.m. This event was far greater than the music; it was designed to put the spotlight and bring attention to both cancer and autism awareness, featured an incredible multi-genre lineup that included R&B, hip hop, and soul. The concert also featured several talented local artists who opened the show and got the crowd dancing early as they primed the crowd before Ashanti, Keyshia Cole, Jagged Edge, 112, Yung Joc, and Dee Goodson kicked things into high gear.

Ashanti – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

Multi-talented singer Ashanti got the crowd engaged early with a non-stop set of her very best. We all know that Ashanti exploded in 2002, reaching super-star status in early work with Ja Rule, R. Kelly, and Nelly. Now 20 years later, Ashanti’s performance was  absolutely incredible vocally, and she has certainly not lost a step with her diva-esque dance moves in a nearly 30-minute performance that had fans singing along to nearly every word of her catchy singalong hits. Dressed in black Dolce and Gabbana and wearing dark sunglasses, Ashanti thanked her fans for supporting her career for more than 20 years about the midpoint of the nearly 30-minute set that kept her fans on their feet singing along with her word for word. Ashanti has matured and showed everyone that she has never sounded better. She didn’t disappoint, getting deep into her catalog of hits, opening with “Happy” from her self-titled album that produced many of her most commercially successful songs. From there she followed with “Only You,” “Rock Wit U,” “What’s Luv,” “Say Less,” “Baby,” “The Way I Love You,” and “Rain on Me” and then got into Ja Rule’s “Down 4 U” that had the New York native doing an a capella rap. From there she jumped into “Always On Time” and closed out her set with her breakout mega-hit “Foolish.”

Keyshia Cole – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

The performance by Ashanti shouldn’t overshadow an equally impressive set by Oakland, California, native Keyshia Cole, who was simply amazing, with a voice that was raw and pure. Cole showed us she doesn’t need overpowering beats, rappers, vocal tracks, or anything else to showcase her incredible talent. Cole came out dressed like the queen bee of the hive and wasted no time quickly engaging the crowd with “I Should Have Cheated,” a song that the crowd joined in and sang at the top of their voices along with Cole’s every word. Cole followed with “I Remember,” “Trust,” and “Trust and Believe” and closed her set with her 2006 platinum-certified-selling single “Love.”

Keyshia Cole – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

Atlanta R&B group Jagged Edge delivered what everyone came for; they played a inspired set of music and danced non-stop the entire time that included their fan-favorite tunes “Let’s Get Married” and “Where the Party At” that got everyone up and out of their seats, movin’ and groovin’ and dancin’ in place. The quartet clearly hasn’t lost their moves as they performed before their fans. Jagged Edge remains a fun R&B group to see and remains true to form as they did over 20 years ago. Jagged Edge is comprised of an all-original group that includes twins Brandon and Brian Casey along with Richard Wingo and Kyle Norman.

Fans were delighted to see American R&B group 112, who also come from Atlanta. Marvin “Slim” Scandrick and Michael “Mike” Keith, the lone remaining members of the original group, provided the entertainment early for those who made their way into the arena.

Kyle Norman of Jagged Edge – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

Yung Joc, who has been touring a lot more of late, kicked off the night of legendary performers. The Atlanta-based rapper worked his way into his 2006 hit single “It’s Goin’ Down.” Joc, who also served as the MC, entertained the crowd in between the remaining acts. The delay before the start of Keyshia Cole’s set lasted more than an hour, but Joc kept everyone in good spirts as he interacted with the DJs on stage. Up-and-coming singer Dee Goodson was superb and holds a lot of promise for such a young talent, with great guitar skills that complement his signing voice. Let’s hope we see more of Goodson as his career develops.


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