Tonight's much-hyped Verzuz battle has, unfortunately, been pushed back.
Hours before the event was scheduled to take place, Ashanti took to Instagram to announce she had tested positive for COVID-19. The R&B singer and Keyshia Cole were expected to go hit-for-hit in the same venue; however, Ashanti's diagnosis has obviously squashed those plans.
"Hey all, I can't believe I'm saying this but I tested positive for COVID-19," Ashanti wrote on Instagram. "I'm OK and not in any pain. I'm actually down to do the Verzuz from my house ... We're trying to figure it out."
Though the most Verzuz battles have been conducted face-to-face, the initial events were done from the artists' respective homes and studios. Early audiences are well aware that the at-home model wasn't exactly the smoothest, as shoddy wireless connections and audio issues caused some streams to drag out. It was definitely possible for Ashanti make arrangements that would allow her to participate from her residence, but organizers chose to simply postpone the event by several weeks.
"We cannot put anyone at risk in the process," read a post on Verzuz's Instagram page. "First time this has struck us so close to showtime. We apologize to our incredible audience! Get well soon, Ashanti 💜🖤💚 Wear a mask, stay inside, and take COVID-19 seriously. It’s truly affecting our community."
The Ashanti and Cole Verzuz is now scheduled for Jan. 9, 2021.
Fans speculated Ashanti contracted the virus during her recent travels to and from Africa. Ashanti addressed those claims in a Saturday night Instagram Live session, insisting she caught the virus from a family member after she returned home.
"No, I did not get COVID from traveling. I did not get COVID from being in Africa or anything like that," the singer said, adding that she and those around her had continuously tested negative throughout their trip. "... No one tested positive. So I did not get it from traveling. I actually got it from a family member when I came home ... I hugged the family member that ended up being positive. I didn't know he was positive, he didn't know he was positive."
Ashanti said she received her test results Friday night and had been tested seven times by the same company.
Cole made a quick appearance during the stream and urged Ashanti to prioritize her health over the battle, which their fans would undoubtedly understand.
"... All our fans, collectively, are excited ..." Cole said. "I think that we're going to bring it right back. We're going to do it for the ladies ... We're going to make it a good time. We're going to make it a moment. So it's all good."
You can read reactions to the Verzuz cancelation and Ashanti's diagnosis below.