Reinventing Fantasia


The date was April 7, 2013. That’s the date when I published the first post featuring dynamic singer/entertainer Fantasia Barrino. Titled “Against All Odds”, the focus was about how much the American Idol champion had to overcome in life. Fantasia survived, and at that point seemed poised to move on with her life and career with her fourth studio album soon available for purchase. Today, three years later, Fantasia is a month from releasing her fifth album called The Definition of…. She also now has stability in her personal life with husband Kendall Taylor, a tour that began in April with Anthony Hamilton, and much of her problems a distant memory. It appears that Fantasia Barrino is enjoying a fresh start. Like the title of this post, I think Fantasia is reinventing herself.

In order to fully understand, we must look back a mere six years ago to see why a new beginning was necessary for the recording artist. On August 9, 2010, Barrino went into the hospital in Pineville, North Carolina, due to overdosing on aspirin and an unknown sleep aid. Dickens said, “‘Her injuries are not life threatening … she suffered dehydration and exhaustion before the hospital visit.” The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department classified the incident as a suicide attempt. In transcript segments released the day before an August 24, 2010, interview on the VH1 series Behind the Music, Barrino confirmed the incident was a suicide attempt, saying, “I didn’t care about anything. I just wanted out. At that moment I wanted out. I wanted it over with….”

One of the problems that possibly contributed to the suicide attempt was the August 2010 divorce filing in Mecklenburg County District Court alleges that Barrino had a year-long relationship with Antwaun Cook, married at the time, bringing up the subject of alienation of affection laws in North Carolina. Fantasia was in need of life changes.

Her plans for changes began right in the hospital. Barrino 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.” Fantasia did get right back into the business of making music. On April 23, 2013, Fantasia released her fourth studio album Side Effects of You. The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who complimented its progression from Barrino’s earlier works. Andy Kellman from AllMusic complimented her prominent role in its production and her choice in collaborators, adding that she “has released her finest album yet”. Gerrick D. Kennedy from The Los Angeles Times praised the project as “sumptuous contemporary R&B dipped in vintage rock and soul.”

In August 2013, Barrino co-wrote and recorded the theme song “In the Middle of the Night” for motion film The Butler. Barrino also starred in the musical revue After Midnight which opened on Broadway on November 3, 2013, with previews beginning on October 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Her role ended on February 9, 2014. She had received rave reviews from critics for her performance. New York Post wrote “… although I admired Ms. Barrino’s heartfelt performance in “The Color Purple,” I was surprised at how smoothly and intuitively she slid into the vocal persona of a jazz singer.”

Today, Fantasia is close to the release of her fifth studio album The Definition of….. The album will hit the music marketplace July 29, 2016. Four singles from the upcoming album, released previously have given us a preview of the album’s sound musically. This album should follow naturally where Side Effects of You ended. Fantasia began working on her fifth studio album with producer Harmony Samuels. She previously collaborated with Samuels on her fourth album, referring to him as her Quincy Jones since they would work “from scratch with him going to the keyboard and just playing things.” Fantasia sought to make music that joined her soulful childhood singing in church with “a certain side of [her] that wants to tap into that whole rock world.”

In an interview with Essence magazine, Fantasia discussed her intentions to merge live music and real musical instruments into the album. She expressed a wish to avoid after the trends of contemporary radio. She added “I wanted music that would touch people’s hearts; that would bless people and move people because, you know, music makes the world go round”.  Fantasia also sought to have full control over the album’s production and release, saying she regretted “not taking control of her destiny sooner.”

That last statement from Fantasia says a lot about more than her music. Yes, her new music bears more of her soul. However, I believe Fantasia now has better control of all aspects of her life. That’s why after much deliberation I finally decided on the post title of Reinventing Fantasia. She has made more than just a few changes; Fantasia experienced a reinvention, and it is still going on. It now appears Fantasia is ready for all around success in life, and that is wonderful.

I also love the title and cover of her new album. The title and cover of The Definition Of…  revealed on April 21, 2016; was inspired Kip Omolade’s Diovadiova Chrome paintings. The title represents how she is every woman: “I’m the definition of strength, the definition of love, the definition of a fighter, the list goes on.”

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