Ashanti Takes Stand, Denies Producer's Career-Launching Claims

Genard Parker sued singer for breach of contract, says he's owed millions in royalties.

The one person who's responsible for R&B sensation Ashanti's mercurial rise to stardom is Ashanti, the R&B singer testified Monday.

The Inc.'s songbird appeared in Manhattan's U.S. District Court, taking the stand to defend both her name and reputation in response to accusations from a Georgia-based producer who claims he's owed millions in unpaid royalties, according to The Associated Press.

Last year, Genard Parker filed a suit against Ashanti for breaching a contract he claims she signed back in 1996, when she was just 16. Parker alleges he was approached by the songstress and her mother that year and was asked to help secure the singer a recording deal. The AP reports that Parker claims in the suit that he helped Ashanti launch her music career only to be abandoned by the singer soon after her star began to rise.

The contract dispute, which is being heard by a jury, is expected to last three days.

"This case is about abandoning the people that help us succeed," Parker's attorney, Jasmine Khalili, said during her opening statement, according to the AP. She alleged that her client spent eight months working with Ashanti in his Bronx studio and eventually released the star from his contract after she signed a record deal; the suit claims he did so only with the mutual understanding that she'd not only let him produce two tracks for her debut disc, but compensate him with a $50,000 advance plus future royalties.

Since Ashanti has gone on to sell more than 6 million albums, Parker's attorney claims he's due millions of dollars in royalties. "She has never paid him, and, just as importantly, she has never thanked him," Khalili told the jury.

Ashanti denied Parker's contributions advanced her then-fledgling career; the singer's attorney, Harry Stokes, pointed out that it was only after her second disc, Chapter II, took off that Parker came forward with his breach of contract claims, the AP reports.

After testifying, Ashanti flew back to Vancouver, British Columbia, to continue working on her forthcoming film, "John Tucker Must Die" (see "Ashanti Exacts Big-Screen Revenge On Jesse Metcalfe").