Ten years ago, the world discovered Fantasia Monique Barrino on American Idol. She was the contestant with the 100 watt smile. Her smile and personality is infectious she has the rare ability to make the audience feel is if they were in her home.
Fantasia’s performance of Summertime was named amongst AOL’s 2004 list of greatest television moments. Randy Jackson has called it the best performance in the show’s history. Simon Cowell remarked that she was the best contestant to ever compete in any competition, including the more than seventy Idol champions crowned nationally and internationally since the show began its first global incarnations.
On May 26, 2004 over 65 million votes were cast in order to determine the winner of American Idol. It wasn’t close, Fantasia defeated runner-up Diana DeGarmo by 1.3 million votes.
The nineteen year old girl from High Point, North Carolina made an impression. Fantasia could have come in fourth in the competition and it would not have mattered. It seemed everyone wanted to work with her.
She signed with J Records(now RCA) and 19 Entertainment . In June 2004, her first single , “I Believe”, was released. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. This number-one debut made Fantasia the first artist in history to achieve this with a first single. On the sales chart, the single spent eleven consecutive weeks at number one, giving it the longest consecutive stay on top of that chart for an American Idol contestant. The CD single, “I Believe”, went on to become the top selling single of 2004 in the U.S., and has since been certified double platinum by the CRIA. Barrino also won three Billboard Music Awards for the single. High Point, North Carolina
Her first album Free Yourself, dropped in November 2004. It debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200, selling 240,000 copies in its first week. “Free Yourself” sold more than two million copies worldwide and was certified Platinum in the U.S. Fantasia was the first artist of any kind to simultaneously hold the top two spots of the top three on Billboard’s Hot Adult R&B Airplay . Her single, “Truth Is” spent fourteen weeks at the number one position. She was named the number-one artist of the Adult Urban Contemporary format for 2005.
Go to Girl
Fantasia appeal is generational. Your grandmother may not be familiar with Nicki Minaj but she has heard of Fantasia. Her performances have moved many veteran performers .
Her performance appeared to move Elton John at the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors
Not enough cameras….. Diana Ross, and the audience she owned. 2006 UNICEF Tribute to Stevie Wonder
In April 2007 , Fantasia took the role of Celie in the play “The Color Purple.
While playing the role, Fantasia earned rave reviews for her performance. The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood said: She’s pretty terrific. So terrific that this earnest but mechanical musical is more effective and affecting than it was when it yawned open a year and a half ago at the Broadway Theater. In the central role of the downtrodden Celie, whose long trudge to emotional fulfillment the musical traces, Fantasia exudes a sweetness, simplicity and honesty that gives it a core of authentic feeling.
New York Post critic Clive Barnes said, “… there is some elemental quality to Fantasia that is either greatness or something close to it.”
Fantasia was initially scheduled for a limited six-month engagement ending in October 2007 but had her run extended until January 6, 2008. The Color Purple box office saw a thirty-four-million-dollar jump in sales since she started in the show, a third of the play’s 100 million dollar earning since its debut in 2005.
The New York Post reported that she missed nearly fifty performances in the show, causing the producers to give back tens of thousands of dollars in refunds. In the September 2008 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine, Barrino revealed that the reason for her absences in The Color Purple was because of the development of a cyst on her vocal cords. She was ordered to immediately undergo surgery which later revealed that she in fact had a tumor on her vocal cords.
Tasia rocked Aretha, Chaka Kahn and slayed Patti LaBelle in 2009. The following video is one of my all time favorites. Tasia performance (3.37) of Lady Marmalade transported Patti to another place.
Too Much Talent for one box?
Well before the 2004 American Idol season ended, there were many veterans artist and producers wanting to work with Tasia. Her roots where in Gospel, she could sing Rock, Jazz and R&B. Unfortunately, the music industry demands you choose a box. If your a Gospel singer, a R&B record could alienate your fans.
Fantasia signed with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment and J Records. The company which produces the show and is said to force heavy contracts on top “Idol” finalists.
In 2008, Fantasia was dropped from 19 Entertainment because of creative differences.
Former contestants Clay Aiken, Mario Vasquez and Kelly Clarkson resorted to hiring high-powered attorneys to get out of their ironclad contracts with 19 Entertainment. Most of their discontent had to do with the company’s manager, Simon Fuller.
Her first performance on American Idol after signing with J Records was a disaster. She came out in a wifebeater and tight shorts. Her haircolor had a strange tint to it. The dancing was manic she disappeared into some seconded rate hoohy show ,she really didn’t look well. The Look on Cowells face was priceless WTF?
A Diamond in a Dollar Store
Fantasia is a force, she is a natural performer with outstanding musical instincts. In short time she has earned the respect of veteran performers.
While she has had some successful songs, most of the music in my opinion is beneath her. A lot of the music sound alike, and I believe the songs chosen for her limits her appeal.
The issue is management.
Fantasia needs a manager, producer someone who can utilize her natural ability and broaden her appeal. As Clive Davis did for Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin.
Tasia isn’t Beyonce, who is an extremely talented performer. Tasia is an entertainer., while I’m not sure if Beyonce will be here when she is 50’s as there are a few Aretha’s, Madonna’s, Cher’s Dionne Warwick’s and Patti LeBelle’s. I do believe Tasia will be.