Fantasia Monique Barrino (born June 30, 1984),commonly known simply by the mononym Fantasia, is an American R&B singer and actress. 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, she released her debut album, Free Yourself, which went on to be certified Platinum by the RIAA and garnered Barrino three Grammy nominations in 2006.
Fantasia Barrino was born to Diane and Joseph Barrino and raised in High Point, North Carolina. She began singing at the age of five. Barrino cites Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and Tina Turner as her biggest musical influences. Music runs in her family. R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo, formerly of Jodeci, are her first cousins. Her uncles, The Barrino Brothers, were a 1970s R&B band. Barrino’s own family would traveled and performed in the Carolinas and elsewhere in the American South and recorded the CD Miracles for a local label
2004: American Idol
Barrino’s show was a heartfelt staging of the Porgy and Bess standard “Summertime” that left her in tears from “feeling the song” and earned praise from the judges – Randy Jackson has called it the best performance in the show’s history – and was named amongst the AOL’s 2004 list of greatest television moments.
In September 2005, Barrino published a memoir, dictated to a freelance writer, titled Life Is Not a Fairy Tale. The book became a New York Times best-seller, reaching number seven on the list. In it, she revealed she is functionally illiterate and was unable to read the text of contracts she signed or to read to her then four-year-old daughter.