When Fantasia Barrino kicks off her shoes while holding a microphone, people pay extra close attention. On Sunday night (July 8), the southern songstress hit the main stage at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and, in keeping with her signature style, she hosted a sort of spiritual revival.

Starting off slow and steady, the former "American Idol" contestant invited the O. Perry Walker High School marching band in a show of support for the community the festivities were held in.

Barrino was already bubbling with excitement when she'd begun singing Sam Cooke's melancholy classic "A Change Is Gonna Come." The anxiety was noticeable but didn't affect her pitch or range -- her voice is as strong as ever.

By the time the chanteuse got to the meatiest part of her set, her shoes were off and she was in the crowd. Barrino wanted to feel the sincerity of her fans' emotions without the nuisance of barricades. "I'm just like you," she said. "I just like to sing."

She performed a few uptempo medleys including Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life" and Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl," then she delved into fan favorites, "I'm Doing Me" and "Free Yourself." Before long, the singer altered the vibe of her set, favoring her roots in the church.

Launching into her spiritual track "Trust Him" and bringing out gospel singer VaShawn Mitchell only increased her ferocity. Barrino sang hard and meant the words she expressed as if there was some personal anguish there, but before anybody could speculate she assured the crowd, "I'm doing me now and they can tweet that!"

See Fantasia's Red Carpet Wardrobe Choice