In a surprise announcement, singer Ashanti has revealed that she is not only expecting her first child but is also engaged to her longtime love, rapper Nelly. The couple shared the joyful news exclusively with ESSENCE, marking a new chapter in their lives and careers.

"This new year of my life is such a blessing full of love, hope, and anticipation," Ashanti told ESSENCE. "Motherhood is something that I have looked forward to, and sharing this with my family, fiancé, and loyal fans, who have been so supportive of my career, is an amazing experience."

The pregnancy announcement was made via an Instagram video that portrays Ashanti getting ready for a performance. In the video, a handler and her mother, Tina Douglas, take turns asking her how much time she needs until she's ready, until the "Foolish" singer finally steps out to say, "I'm going to need about nine months." Nelly also shared the video on his own Instagram account.

Ashanti, 43, and Nelly, 49, first began dating in 2003 during the early stages of their music careers. The couple split in 2013 but rekindled their romance in 2023. Nelly confirmed their new relationship last September in an interview with Love and Hip Hop's Rasheeda and Kirk Frost, saying, "I think we both were pretty much doing what we do, but sometimes being separate you understand one another more."


The couple also revealed to ESSENCE that they are co-owners of Proov, a diagnostics company that offers at-home tests to help individuals looking to conceive make it happen faster and more affordably. The medical-grade tests help bring to light issues that can keep people from being able to conceive. Proov was featured in Ashanti's pregnancy announcement video, which was co-shared by ESSENCE on Instagram.

This will be Ashanti's first child and Nelly's fifth. The rapper has a daughter, Chanelle, a son, Cornell Jr., and adopted Shawn and Sydney Thomas, the two children of his sister, Jackie Donahue, after she died of leukemia in 2005.

The couple's reunion in 2023 came after a period of communication that began following the Verzuz event between Fat Joe and Ja Rule. During that star-studded happening, Nelly notably went in for a hug, which Ashanti said after the fact was a surprise.

"I had no idea he was going to be there. I haven't seen him or spoken to him since we broke up. I don't know if it's six years or something, so I didn't know what to expect," she said during an Instagram Live in 2021 with friends and collaborators Ja Rule and Fat Joe. "That's the crazy thing, wasn't nothing said. I seen him walking, his eyes got big, I didn't know what to expect. It was positive."

Behind the scenes, the pair worked to move forward from the past and fall in love again. Now, they are preparing to start a family together and become husband and wife, a union that, in the past, Nelly didn't seem so sure about. However, Ashanti has clearly helped him have a change of heart.

As the couple embarks on this new chapter in their lives, fans and well-wishers have been expressing their joy and support for the expectant parents. The news of their pregnancy and engagement has taken the entertainment world by storm, with many eagerly awaiting further updates on their journey together.