In 2004, Fantasia sang a song on “American Idol” that riveted viewers to the screen, touched hearts and brought tears.
Ironically, Fantasia said she had never heard “Summertime” before, yet she sang the classic George Gershwin composition, that she somehow felt a connection to, with a passion that was stunning.
The performance was so outstanding that it all but guaranteed that the 20-year-old from High Point, North Carolina, would win the singing competition with its massive audience.
From 12 finalists it had been narrowed down to two (Jennifer Hudson was also a finalist) and the other girl was clearly not even in the same league as the victor. Had Fantasia not won, it would have been a travesty.
“I WASN’T even in it for the prize,” said Fantasia. “I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to sing.’ I think my purpose (in life) is to just to get out there and sing. But I had never been in a competition before.”
Another performance that warmed hearts and made people marvel at the depth of Fantasia’s delivery was the lovely “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” — a song closely associated with Barbra Streisand. “Idol” judge Paula Abdul cried all the way through.
But as Smokey Robinson said in one of his compositions, recorded by the Marvelettes, “You’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet.”
The first “sweets” were making it to the semi-finals, then the finals, then the top 12. But already there was something “bitter.”
Fantasia was an unwed mother, having given birth to her daughter, Zion, when she was 16.
The “American Idol” producers “gently suggested” that it might be a good idea, for the sake of her chances of winning — and for the show — to not say anything about her daughter.
BUT FANTASIA wasn’t having it. Not only did she not keep Zion a secret, she brought her on the show, proudly identifying her as “a miracle.”
Tongues wagged, but so what!
The second “bitter” came in the form of Zion’s father, Brandel Shouse, who had done nothing for Zion or Fantasia, suddenly reappearing, hoping to start “relationships.” The “American Idol” winner allowed him to talk to Zion on the phone, but nothing more.
The public was eagerly awaiting Fantasia’s first album. “Free Yourself,” released in 2004, did not disappoint, artistically or in terms of sales. It reached the million mark, thus earning Platinum certification from the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA). There were also three Grammy nominations.
Fantasia won an NAACP Award that year as Outstanding Female Vocalist.
The follow-up album, “Fantasia,” featuring the No. 1 single “When I See U,” didn’t quite make it to Platinum but achieved Gold certification from the RIAA when it hit the 500,000 sales mark. Plus, there were three more Grammy nominations.
Fantasia was ecstatic about all this success, but with success can come the problem of “mooching relatives.”
She bought a large house and made the mistake of inviting numerous relatives to live there, but they stayed too long, not to mention some living from her paychecks. Eventually something had to be done. Call it “tough love.”
IN 2006, Fantasia starred in a film made for Lifetime Television based on her autobiography, “Life Is Not A Dream.” She played herself in “The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale.”
Fantasia again demonstrated how extensive her talents are when she took on the role of Celie in the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.” The show was a huge success at the box office and won raves from many of the most seasoned critics.
“Back to Me,” Fantasia’s third album, was released in the summer of 2010. Like the albums that came before, it was greeted warmly by the public and radio programers.
By this time Fantasia had become known for clothes and hairstyles that in some cases could be described as outlandish and unflattering. But she always seems to be having a good time with it, perhaps enjoying the raised eyebrows.
FANTASIA HAD found herself facing financial difficulties by 2008, a low point being her expansive lakefront home in Charlotte, North Carolina, going into foreclosure and put up for auction. But a complicated, legality-fused “eleventh-hour deal” resulted in her being able to keep the house.
There was plenty of gossip in 2010 when Fantasia Barrino began an affair with a man by the name of Antwaun Cook. He was married, but Fantasia says the couple was separated when she and Cook began dating.
The wife, Paula Cook, had planned on suing Fantasia, but a judge in North Carolina ruled in the singer’s favor because according to him, Fantasia and Cook did indeed start their relationship after the separation.
Fantasia got pregnant by Cook, but chose to have an abortion. The following year she gave birth to a son, Dallas Xavier Barrino. However, she would not reveal who the father was, sparking still more gossip.
She asked publicly that people not be judgmental and, more importantly, refrain from getting into her personal business.
But it all comes back to music.
“When I’m out on the stage, it gives me this rush,” said Fantasia. “Anything that’s on my mind and everything I’m going through are forgotten.”
Most people agree that she is at her best when she forgoes the “soul screaming” which can be very distracting.
Fantasia’s current album is “Side Effects of You,” which finds her taking a more aggressive stance in several songs.
It, like Fantasia Barrino, is doing well.