Saturday, May 30, 2015


Say the name Fantasia and just about everyone will know who you are talking about. Fantasia’s accomplishments over the past two years are truly stunning and have since made her a household name. She blew audiences away with her genuine soulful style, winning season 3 of the most watched show on television in 2004, American Idol. Fantasia, just 22 years old, has been the subject of a Lifetime original movie (“The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not A Fairy Tale”), based on her autobiography (published by Simon and Schuster), which was seen by over 19 million viewers in August 2006. Musically, she is the recipient of more than 20 award nominations and wins including an NAACP 2005 “Outstanding Female Artist” Award and several Grammy and American Music Awards nominations. Her debut album “Free Yourself,” released by J Records in 2004, has sold over 1.7 million copies and made Billboard history with the hit single, "I Believe," becoming the first artist in the history of Billboard's Hot 100 chart to debut at Number 1 with her first solo record. Fantasia ended 2005 with a highly successful national tour with Kanye West.

Deeply grateful for her success and all of her fans, the High Point, North Carolina native says the vibrant tracks on her much-anticipated sophomore album “Fantasia” reflect where she is at in life today, “I’ve let go of things from the past and I’m having a good time,” she says. I was able to let go of the past with the Lifetime movie and now I’m on a whole different level. I worked with some really great people on this album like Missy Elliott, Dre & Vidal, Midi Mafia, and Swizz Beatz and I let everyone know that I’ve moved on from where I was when I recorded my first album.

The result is an album that places Fantasia front and center among today’s hottest artists. She has an undeniable old school vocal influence apparent on everything she sings, “Fantasia” clearly defines Fantasia as a young artist just beginning to hit her stride. Edgy grooves like the instantly infectious “Baby Makin’ Hips” leaves no doubt that she’s in her musical element: “It’s a real club joint and I feel like I’m representin’ – it’s like an anthem for women,” she explains.

“Hood Boy” (featuring Big Boi from Outkast) is another powerful song destined for huge radio play, “So many girls want a hood boy!” she says. Fantasia leaves no doubt what’s on her mind with the sultry “I Nominate U,” another Dre & Vidal production. “It’s a very sexy song, one of those ‘kick back’ jams.” Produced by Midi Mafia, the catchy “When I See U” is about someone you might have a crush on. You find yourself writing his name on a paper, twenty-five times…and then when you see him, you just can’t say a word. My girls would tell me, ‘you need to say something and I would never say a word!”

“Girl Like Me,” is a song Fantasia says many people will relate to. “It’s me saying just because you aren’t calling doesn’t mean the phone’s not ringing.” Produced by Swizz Beatz, “Surround U” is a tune “with a two-step ‘old school’ feel,” says Fantasia. And talking ‘old school,’ Fantasia hits the spot with “Broke,” a Midi Mafia production. “When I was starting to work on this album, I told everyone I had this idea of doing something ‘live’ in the studio, with musicians. I realized that for my second record, I wanted to do something different. It took the Midi Mafia guys a minute to understand what I wanted to do: after I explained it to them, the next day I went in the studio and we recorded “Broke.” It’s funky, it’s soulful, it’s very old school; it’s my Tina Turner song you know, the ‘shimmy-shimmy skirt’ kinda song! After we recorded it, I was real hyped up and we recorded “Two Weeks Notice” with Dre & Vidal who played all the instruments on the track. It’s a ‘back in the day’ song with a new twist. The catch is that you might think I was talking about a job if you see the song title but I’m talking about guy!”

Fantasia’s trademark for delivering a ballad with emotion, passion and intensity is never more evident than on the album’s standout cut, “I Feel Beautiful,” penned and produced by Diane Warren. “When I sat down with Diane, my mother was really on my heart. I thought about all she’s been through and just seeing her smile now just feels so amazing. She and I have been through so many of the same things in life. When Diane asked me, I told her I was thinking about my Mom. She just starting playing this song on the guitar and she started humming, ‘I feel beautiful’ and I said, ‘that’s it!’ The lyrics on that song are very emotional for me and when I recorded it, I just broke down at the end. It’s my song for my Mom.”

Both “nervous and excited” about her second album, Fantasia is proud of the amount of creative involvement she had this time around, “I know that in some ways, I’m like the ‘baby’ at the label because this is only my second record. But as an artist, you go out, you tour, you start to create your own thing. You start to have a vision for what you want. Clive Davis (Chairman, BMG U.S.), really allowed me to have a lot of creative input in making this record. I wanted to take people back in terms of doing real songs, bringing something new to the table, and keeping it ‘Fantasia,’ making an album you can chill with, groove with. You know, with that old school vibe - yet fresh.”

Fantasia credits being on the road – including her show-stopping tour with Kanye West as keeping her connected with her audience: “Sometimes, I pinch myself when I look out there and see all kinds of people, mothers, families, men, women, every race. It feels so good when they say, ‘Fantasia, you’re my girl. I voted for you!’ It can be overwhelming, but I’m so grateful to God for allowing me the opportunity to touch people with my music. It comes from a lot of prayer and having a supportive mom, supportive friends and family around me. I’m just so thankful.”

Asked to reflect on some of the highlights of a whirlwind two years, Fantasia pauses. “In a way, everything has been a highlight. When I come home from being on the road and I drive through the neighborhood, I think of how I used to tell my Mom that when I made it as a singer, I’d buy her a house and I was able to do that. You know, singing for Stevie Wonder at the UNCF tribute in 2005, singing for Elton John at The Kennedy Center and then…singing for Aretha Franklin who’s been my biggest musical influence at the UNCF tribute to her (scheduled to air in 2007)! I mean singing “Rock Steady” and “Baby I Love You” right there in front of her…my manager had to trick me into meeting her afterwards, I was so nervous. And when I did, all I could do was cry! I couldn’t say a word to her, I just cried!”

With the release of “Fantasia”, the singer known for always bringing realness to her music emphasizes the importance of stepping up and stepping out. “I want to let the people who buy my music know that if I’m going to be any kind of role model or a person they look up to, then they have to ask the question I asked myself: ‘After the pain, where am I gonna go?’ You can’t hold on to the pain forever so you have to lift your head up, say, ‘that’s my past, now what’s next?’ For me, it’s a brand new Fantasia: I’m here to tell everyone that dreams DO come true, you can’t give up…and me, hey, I’m gonna ride this train till the wheels fall off!”

Fantasia All Music Guide Biography
Fantasia Barrino may have won the third season of American Idol with "I Believe," but it was her passionate take on George Gershwin's "Summertime" that had everyone talking for weeks. Confident to a degree that she could be considered brash, Barrino at first glance seemed an unlikely candidate to take the teen-oriented show's title, but with her dynamic gospel-tinged voice that never failed her, she not only became the Idol judges' obvious favorite, but the American public's, too. She debuted with a platinum album and remained with a major label longer than most other Idol stars and R&B singers. Born and raised in High Point, North Carolina, Barrino fell in love with music through the recordings of Monica, Brandy, Aretha Franklin, P!nk, and -- in keeping with her diversity -- Aerosmith. Being a 19-year-old single mother and an Idol finalist had some of the media mumbling and sneering, but the always certain Barrino paid no mind. Becoming a mother at the age of 17 focused Barrino and gave her the strength and drive to audition for the show in Atlanta. Out of 70,000 hopefuls,Barrino earned her way to the top by adjusting her style to whatever genre was thrown at her. Upon beating runner-up Diana DeGarmo, Barrino's first words as American Idol 2004 were "I broke my shoe!" Numerous appearances on talk shows and a cameo on the television show American Dreams -- playing the role of her beloved Aretha Franklin -- followed. Barrino made history when she became the first artist ever to debut at number one with her first single, "I Believe" -- written by Idol alum Tamyra Gray. J Records released her full-length debut,Free Yourself, in November 2004. Also featuring two Top Five R&B/Hip-Hop hits, it went platinum, and its lead single won a Billboard Music Award for Top Selling Single of the Year. Barrino was also nominated for three Grammy Awards. A year later her autobiography, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, appeared and was turned into a film directed by Debbie Allen; it premiered on the Lifetime cable network in 2006. Her sophomore effort, simply titled Fantasia, landed that December. It debuted at number 19 on the Billboard 200 and eventually went gold. Back to Me, released in August 2010, was led by a pair of Chuck Harmony-produced singles in "I'm Doin' Me" (number 11, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop) and "Bittersweet" (number seven, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop). She gave birth to her second child, a son, in December 2011. The singer's fourth album, Side Effects of You, was released in April 2013. Big K.R.I.T., Kelly Rowland, and Missy Elliott made guest appearances on the set, driven by the Commodores-sampling "Lose to Win." ~ David Jeffries, Rovi