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Ashanti rocks with SXSW: easy glamour, impeccable moves, her biggest hits

On Tuesday, pop star Ashanti made her debut appearance at South by Southwest. During the day, she participated in a panel about the future for women in music. At night, she rocked a packed crowd at Empire Garage. 

Here are a few things that happened at the show: 

She brought an arena approach to a small stage

The set was impeccably choreographed, with a pair of back up dancers popping, twerking and prowling the stage and a big screen projection behind her. With every twist of the hips and flick of the fingertips Ashanti oozed star quality while delivering a 45-minute quick mix of hits that reminded us the woman who put the heart and soul in "Mesmerize" doesn't need Ja Rule to make it pop live. 

Ashanti performs at Empire Garage at South by Southwest on Tuesday March 15, 2022.

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She serves serious face

The pop diva is a true performer who knows how to bring drama to her lyrics. She doesn't just sing; she engages in a charismatic conversation with the audience in song. As she embodies every emotion, her face comes to life. One moment her eyes register surprise, then they beam with love. But beware, they also shoot daggers. If looks could kill, Ashanti would be a warrior queen. 

Ashanti performs at Empire Garage at South by Southwest on Tuesday March 15, 2022.

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She channeled the fury of every woman scorned

"I've been betrayed before, publicly at that," she said dryly before exorcising any residual heartbreak with a scorching vocal run as an intro to the heartbreak anthem "Rain on Me."

She is as gracious as she is glamorous

As her set came to a close, Ashanti exuded love and gratitude as she thanked the audience for supporting her for so many years. She's getting a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and 20 years after she dropped her hit song "Foolish," she said she still holds the Guinness Book of World Records award for first week sales by a female artist. She closed the set with an ecstatic rendition of her biggest hit that included a spectacular dance break while the crowd handled the vocals. 

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