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The Fantastic Tale of Fantasia

By Kristi Watts
The 700 Club Kristi Watts (reporting): American Idol has become a TV phenomenon. Millions of Americans tune in each week to watch the sing-off showdown. It’s a program where the viewers get to vote for the winner.

In Season 3’s finale, over 65 million people called in to vote. The winner was crowd favorite Fantasia Barrino.

Since she has won American Idol, Fantasia’s album has gone double platinum. She’s written her first book, and she’s only 21.

I recently talked with Fantasia and what I discovered was this. The woman with a big voice has an even bigger story -- one of tragedy, insecurity and triumph.

Kristi: What was that experience like to stand on that stage and for them to say Fantasia Barrino is the next American Idol?

Fantasia Barrino: I was just giving God thanks and praise and was thinking about all that I had went through and thought about all these people had gave up on me and I wasn’t going to go anywhere. I just start giving thanks to God. The doors have opened. [God], You have blessed me, and [He] said, “Now I’m allowing you to do what I’ve called you to do.”

Kristi: People think they know a lot about you. Your grandmother is a pastor; your mother is an evangelist. So you grew up in the church, but there came a time when you decided to make some choices in your life that went against what you had been taught.

Fantasia: I wanted to be like some of the other young ladies that were in my school. I used to get picked on in church. Nobody wants to hang out with me. I want to hang out with the cool girls, and I started to take the wrong turn and do things I knew wasn’t right.

Kristi: Like?

Fantasia: Partying, hanging out, drinking -- things that I knew I wasn’t supposed to be touching. I knew what was wrong. I knew what was right. My mother would tell us everyday but I went through this stage of rebellion. I stopped going to church for awhile.

Kristi: How did you feel about yourself at that time?

Fantasia: I really had low self-esteem, and I didn’t care. I didn’t care about how a man treated me. I didn’t care about how a man talked to me.

Kristi: Why?

Fantasia: I went through a lot of things that I talk about in my book Life Is Not a Fairy Tale. I talk about being touched at a young age. After you go through something like that you think that’s how I’m supposed to be treated.

Kristi: Because you were raped.

Fantasia: Right. I guarantee that if you talk to some of the young ladies that are out on the street selling their bodies -- if you sit them down and really talk to them -- they’ll tell you that they’ve been abused, physically and mentally. They go through this stage where they don’t care, because you don’t feel like you’re worth anything.

Kristi: Did you feel that way?

Fantasia: I felt that way for a long time. Before I got pregnant, I was known as that little girl who used to sing in the churches. But when I got pregnant I wasn’t that little girl anymore.

Kristi: What were they saying about you?

Fantasia: “Oh, she ain’t going to be nothing. That gift she got, she done put it to waste. She can’t do nothing now.”

Kristi: How did that make you feel?

Fantasia: From time to time when you hear so much of that, you start to say, “Maybe they are right. Maybe I am nothing.”

Kristi: Do you feel like people had given up on you?

Fantasia: Yes, they had given up on me, and I had begun to give up on myself.

Kristi: Because you were physically and sexually abused, did you ever wonder, Why, Lord? Why did You allow all of these things to happen to me?

Fantasia: There were days when I would sit in my house, the lights were on, and I knew the next morning they were going off. So it was a struggle. I was like, “Lord, why me? I can’t take anymore.” But then I had to realize that the battle wasn’t mine. I had to give it all back to God.

Kristi: When was that point where you turned your life around?

Fantasia: I was talking to my mom. She said, “You need to talk to God.” I remember going to church, and I fell on my knees. I said, “God, I’m sorry. I failed. I was doing things I knew I wasn’t supposed to be doing.” I had to give it all back.

Kristi: Is that why you feel you’re in the position you’re in now?

Fantasia: Yes, you know they say, “When the praises go up, the blessings come down.” That day when Ryan Seacrest called my name, it’s like God said, “Okay, you’re ready. I’ve taken you through all of that, and now you’re ready."

I used to tell people I wish you could feel what I felt. I can’t explain that feeling but everything had just broke. I said, “Oh my God, the struggle is over.”

Kristi: One of the things that you talk about in your book is that you are functionally illiterate. What is it?

Fantasia: I never said I could not read. I’ve been on the Soul Train Awards and different award shows where I read the prompter. There was a time when I wasn’t a strong reader. If you put a book in front of me, I can read the familiar, but if I come across a word that is not familiar to me, my problem is pronunciation. I had a fear of that. It made me not want to read out loud. It made me not want to pick up a book and read period. I got lazy at it.

Kristi: So what are you doing now?

Fantasia: I’m a stronger reader now. I’ve read for movie scripts. I didn’t want to be the type of mother where my child came to me, and I can’t even help her with her homework.

Kristi: You know what I think is so funny is that for a person who is so concerned about what other people are going to say, isn’t it interesting how the Lord places you in a position where you said it all for them.

Fantasia: With some interviews, they’ve tried to kill me with some of the things I’ve said in my book. I tell them, “You can’t kill me with something that I’ve already been through. I made it out of that. I’m telling you my past. Look at what I’ve come out of. Look at me now." So that goes to show, you can’t give up. God didn’t give up on me. I am somebody in God’s eyes… Let me be a prime example of how I’ve been through the storm and the rain, and I made it over.

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