Happy Birthday, Fantasia!
Part of what made Barrino a memorable figure was the story of her tragic teenage years. The North Carolina native unfortunately dropped out of high school after she was harassed by a classmate who raped her. She later got pregnant with her first child, Zion Quari Barrino, when she was 16.
Music was her saving grace during the rough times. Since she came from a musical family, her lineage and natural talent led her to American Idol when the show was at its peak. She wowed the judges and eventually won the third season of Idol in 2004. The show was hit with controversy after Elton John accused America of racism after Jennifer Hudson was voted off despite her excellent performances. If John was right, Barrino proved she was talented enough to overcome it.
She also became one of the few Idol contestants to achieve mainstream success outside of the reality competition. Her single, "I Believe," debuted at No. 1 partially because of her emotional performance of the song during the finale. Her debut album, Free Yourself, went platinum and her self-titled follow-up went gold.
The relevance of Idol declined and Barrino has been relatively quiet in her career as of late. But to her credit, Barrino's decline wasn't as steep and ignominious as the show itself. In 2013, she found a minor spark with Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland in the slow-burning "Without Me," which landed at No. 74 on the Billboard charts. The song is a worthwhile listen in itself, and it's a lot better than what many fellow singers from the mid-2000s -- Idol contestant or not -- are doing.
Watch Fantasia's "When I See U" Video
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