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Ashanti Ordered to Pay Former Producer

Grammy-winning singer Ashanti (search) hit a sour note with a federal jury, which concluded Thursday she owes $630,000 to her first producer for breach of contract.

The singer was not in court when the jury returned its verdict in favor of Genard Parker (search), who worked with Ashanti in 1996 and 1997 when she was 16.

Ashanti testified during the four-day trial that Parker did not live up to the terms of their deal as he helped her create music in a home studio that was so crude she sang in the bathroom.

Parker, now of Ellenwood, Ga., said after the verdict that he wished the singer and her mother well and had nothing bad to say about them "though they had plenty of negative things to say about me."

Ashanti lawyer Harry Stokes said the singer was disappointed and the verdict would be appealed.

"We think the jury got confused somewhat, particularly on the damages," he said. "We feel confident when this is said and done we won't have to pay out anything."

Parker lawyer Jasmine Khalili called the jury award a "huge victory," even though it fell well short of the $2.2 million one expert testified Parker might be owed.

"They never acknowledged what he had done," she said. "It takes a jury to get a thank you."

Ashanti, whose full name is Ashanti Douglas, lived on Long Island when she went to Parker. She eventually signed with a record company, and Parker released her from his contract with the understanding that he could produce two songs on her first album.

Ashanti, now 24, has sold more than 6 million copies of two albums, including "Ashanti," her debut, which garnered a Grammy Award (search) in 2003 for best contemporary R&B album.