Ashanti Breached Contract, Jury Rules; Singer Must Pay Producer $630,000

Singer signed contract with Georgia producer when she was 16.

A federal jury in New York determined Thursday that R&B singer Ashanti breached a contract with Georgia-based producer Genard Parker and ordered the Inc. songstress to pay him $630,000, according to The Associated Press.

Parker filed his civil suit against Ashanti last year for breaching the contract she'd signed with him in 1996, when she was 16. The suit claims Ashanti and her mother approached him for help in securing a label deal for the then-unknown singer; Parker worked on some of Ashanti's first professional recordings.

Ashanti was in Canada working on her next film (see "Ashanti Exacts Big-Screen Revenge On Jesse Metcalfe") when the verdict was read. Her attorney, Harry Stokes, told the AP his client was disheartened by the decision and intends to appeal.

Parker was complimentary about Ashanti following his win and wished her well — although he noted the singer and her team "had plenty of negative things to say about me" (see "Ashanti Takes Stand, Denies Producer's Career-Launching Claims"). His lawyer, Jasmine Khalili, heralded the decision as a big win, even if the award amount fell considerably short of the $2.2 million at least one expert testified Parker might've been owed.

While on the stand, Ashanti denied Parker's influence on her career, claiming he never lived up to his end of their deal. The producer's suit claimed he had released Ashanti from his contract soon after she signed on with a major, but only with the understanding that he would produce two cuts for her debut and she would compensate him with a $50,000 advance plus future royalties — benefits the producer did not receive.