It’s been almost ten years since Fantasia Barrino
won the hearts of millions of viewers on season three of Fox’s
American Idol. She was simply a young voice from High Point, North
Carolina, just amazed to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her own idols, much
less perhaps become one.
Today, she returns with her fourth studio album
entitled Side Effects of You. After so many years in the
business, Fantasia is ready to take charge of her life and her music,
starting with this album.
“I figured change had to start with me taking
control my career,” Fantasia laments. “My life and my career belongs to
me, and music is what I do.”
Armed with that motivation and attitude, she
returned to the studio and produced what she describes as “rock-soul.”
“I’ve been influenced by so many people. Queen,
Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin,”
explains Fantasia. “I wanted to take people back to how music used to
be. This is the album I’ve always wanted to do.”
With her strong musical influences and new control
over her own music, her latest offering is taking on a life of its own.
Side Effects of You
is aptly titled. After coming from the American Idol ranks,
Fantasia explains that she had to learn – not only about the music
industry, but also about life. She went through a much-publicized
hospitalization, divorce and the birth of her second child. Fantasia
was forced to re-evaluate her life and prioritize.
“I didn’t know everything and I had to sit back
decide what was right for me,” confesses Fantasia. “I was being led
around by people who didn’t truly know me or what I wanted from life, so
finally I said ‘no more.’”
She took the reins of her music career and her
personal life and poured her soul, sweat and tears into this album.
“It’s about everything I’ve been through and how it
has affected my life,” explains Fantasia. “I’m a much bolder woman.
That lost young girl isn’t here anymore and I’m not going to let anyone
destroy my dream. I’ve been quiet for too long.”
She is quiet no more, as she owns her prior
heartache and trouble on the track “Ain’t All Bad.” The deeply soulful,
Caribbean-infused track highlights her newfound freedom, as she sings
“it ain’t all bad all by myself.”
The theme continues in her second single to hit
radio, “Without Me,” featuring Kelly Rowland (of Destiny’s Child fame)
and Missy Elliot. The infectious track with the bass-heavy production
is all about independence from the person who mistreated her. The song’s
hook asks “What would you be without me?... Where would you be without
me?” This song further highlights Fantasia’s soft vocals and strong
She takes pride in letting her words do the talking
on this album. “They are all my babies,” Fantasia says of the tunes on
the album. “Each song means something different to me and describes a
certain point in my life. I’m pouring out my feelings, my joy, my
At this point in her career, it seems that Fantasia
has done it all. The American Idol win, a Grammy Award and a
successful stint on Broadway in The Color Purple were all terrific,
but she still always finds herself behind the microphone.
“My music is my passion,” she says. “All those
things are wonderful, but music takes me to a totally different place.”
She will soon be in another totally different place, as
she is set to tour with famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. Asked how
the tour came about, Fantasia was at a loss for words.
“When they asked me to join the tour, I was like,
‘are you sure?’” admits Fantasia. “He’s so inspirational, and an
amazing performer. I thought they were crazy for asking me but I truly
embrace all opportunities I get.”
As the opportunities continue to present themselves,
Fantasia sees each as an opportunity to redefine herself.
“I’m up for any challenge God has for me, “ says
Fantasia. “Everything I thought I could do, I’ve done, but there’s more
Four albums, Grammy awards, Broadway, and a big
screen role, it’s hard to imagine what more one woman can do. Judging by
her new album, Fantasia has shed all “side effects” and as the song “If
I Was a Bird” says, she’s ready to spread her wings and fly.