Against All Odds

Fantasia Barrino

Overall, about half (51%) of teen moms have a high school diploma compared to 89% of women who didn’t have a teen birth. Young teen mothers are even less likely to graduate from high school. Fewer than four in ten (38%) mothers who have a child before they turn 18 have a high school diploma. Parenthood is a leading cause of school drop out among teen girls—30% of teen girls cited pregnancy or parenthood as a reason for dropping out of high school. Other data find that less than two percent of young teen mothers (those who have a baby before age 18) attain a college degree by age 30.3.

The music industry is one of the hardest to break into, and even harder to achieve and sustain a level of stardom. I’m sure many of you reading around the world have known someone with amazing talent who never received a chance at a recording contract. There are various reasons but let’s just say the odds are even a talented vocalist or instrumentalist will not find success in the music industry. Imagine the array of external factors contributing to make the odds even less favorable. If you noticed at the beginning of this weeks’ post I started with statistics showing the effect teenage pregnancy has upon the education and lifetime prospects of the mother. No doubt those without some form of education or even a high school diploma find difficulty succeeding in society today.  In addition, if the person does not have the ability to read, the prospects of accomplishing anything diminish even further. Nevertheless, we refer to persons chances in life as odds because in spite of all the obstacles, a few will still succeed. Such is the case with this weeks’ featured artist: Fantasia Barrino who was a teen mother, high school dropout, and functionally illiterate.

The twenty-eight year old third season American Idol winner has been through much adversity, but the young woman has not only survived, but she has put together a very solid musical career. Fantasia is about to release her fourth studio album later this month entitled Side Effects of You. She appeared on Broadway as Celie in The Color Purple, and won a 2010 Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance for the song Bittersweet, as well as a variety of other awards and accolades.  Still Fantasia has fought through some very tough problems in her personal life which include a home foreclosure, lawsuits, and an attempted suicide. Yet, here we are today featuring Fantasia who is juggling music and some television and movie offers. (Aretha Franklin considers Fantasia a very good choice to portray her in the pending movie of Franklin’s life story).

The questions remain as to how Fantasia Barrino overcame all the odds and became such a musical success story.  Perhaps we should look back to American Idol in the year 2004. On her way to the finals Fantasia chose to sing Summertime from the musical Porgy and Bess.  In a very moving and heartfelt rendition, Fantasia moved the Idol judges to offer massive praise. Randy Jackson called it the best performance in the shows history and after a second performance of the song Simon Cowell remarked that she was the best contestant to ever compete in any competition.  Both judges, as well as a large television audience, could tell that Fantasia bared her personal feelings through the performance. Maybe the fact that Fantasia understands herself emotionally has bearing on how she deals with adversity. Of course she is extremely talented and most in the music industry do not dispute her abilities. However, she must possess a real strength deep inside that allows her to rise after each tumble in life.

After her failed suicide attempt in 2010 Fantasia said, “Music saved me. When I went in the hospital, I went into the computer room, and I looked up artists who’ve been through things, artists who sing from their soul. I took my cues from them, and I just put my mind and everything into music.” She also relied on her family, something she had not done earlier in her career. Fantasia also gave a lot of credit to her faith in God. “I have to tell God thank you because He has blessed me. Just when I thought it was all over, He kept blessing me,” Barrino told her audience, according to the Trinidadian Guardian newspaper. “He’s always been there. I made it through because of God … Everything I went through is my testimony.”

For now Fantasia has given us a new song Lose to Win that is getting a lot of airplay. She described what the song meant to her in an interview with Philadelphia radio station WDAS FM. “When I recorded lose to win, that song wasn’t just about a relationship … and I think when people hear it as well they don’t just think of a relationship,” Barrino said on the radio station. “They think of somebody might have lost a job, a home, a family member. In that moment when you’re losing you think, ‘Oh my God. If I can just find one person to lean on.’ Against all odds, Fantasia continues to sing and we continue to listen.

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