BY WALTER OPINDE
On this day, 30th June, 1984, an African-American R&B singer, songwriter, and actress, Fantasia Barrino, was born to Diane and Joseph Barrino, and raised in High Point, North Carolina. She began singing at the age of five. Fantasia Barrino cites Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Tina Turner as her biggest musical influences. Fantasia attended Andrews High School in High Point, North Carolina. Feeling embarrassed and harassed after she was raped by a classmate, she dropped out of high school. She became pregnant at the age of 16 years, and on 8th August, 2001, gave birth to her daughter, Zion Quari Barrino with her ex-boyfriend, Brandel Shouse.
Born ‘Fantasia Monique Taylor,’ Barrino is known professionally by her mononym Fantasia. She rose to fame as the winner of the Third Season of the reality television series American Idol in 2004. Following her victory, she released her debut single, “I Believe,” which debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Subsequently, Fantasia released her debut album, Free Yourself, which went on to be certified Platinum by the RIAA and garnered her three Grammy nominations in 2006.
In 2006, Fantasia Barrino released her second album, Fantasia, which featured the single “When I See U” which topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for eight weeks. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA and received three Grammy nominations in 2008. She then played the part of Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, for which she won a 2007 Theatre World Award. Her third studio album, Back to Me, was released worldwide on 24th August, 2010, and features the single “Bittersweet,” which peaked in the top ten on the R&B chart. The single won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. By February 2012, Taylor had sold 2,842,000 albums and 1,425,000 tracks in the U.S. alone. In 2012, VH1 ranked her number 32 out of the 100 Greatest Women in Music.
On 18th April, 2013, Fantasia returned to American Idol singing “Lose to Win.” The performance dubbed “dynamic, passionate and powerful” won her fervent expressions of approval from the show’s current judges and a wild ovation from the live audience. Moreover, she has received rave reviews in the media for the performance. In November 2013, Fantasia Taylor returned to Broadway in the musical After Midnight. On 16th October, 2014, she was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
Taylor has been nicknamed “Baby Patti LaBelle” by her idol Patti LaBelle. Since winning the American Idol in 2004, she has sold over three million records and won numerous awards and accolades, including the Grammy Award, three Billboard Awards, three NAACP Image Awards and two ASCAP Awards. Her first single, “I Believe” topped the Billboard Hot 100 at number-one, making Taylor the first artist in history to achieve this with a first single. I Believe remained at number-one for eleven consecutive weeks, giving it the longest consecutive stay on top of that chart for an American Idol contestant. In 2005, Taylor was named the number-one artist of the Adult Urban Contemporary format, according to the 13th December, 2005 issue of Billboard magazine. Fantasia “Barrino” Taylor was the first artist of any kind to simultaneously hold the top two spots of the top three on the Billboard Hot Adult R&B Airplay. Her song, “Truth Is” spent fourteen weeks at the number-one position.
Over the course of her career, Taylor has inspired other artists, including American Idol season eleven contestant Joshua Ledet who was dubbed “Mantasia” by fans, the media and even Taylor herself. Actress Amber Riley revealed her admiration for Fantasia Barrino Taylor in an interview on The Arsenio Hall Show and cited her as an “inspiration.”
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