Fantasia Monique Barrino (born June
30, 1984), or simply Fantasia, is an American soul singer who rose to fame as
the winner of the third season of the television series American Idol in 2004.
Her debut album Free Yourself was a commercial success garnering four Grammy
nominations. Fantasia was also named the #1 artist of the Adult Urban
Contemporary format for 2005 according to the December 13th, 2005 Billboard
Magazine. Her sophomore album titled Fantasia will be released on Tuesday,
December 12th, 2006.
Fantasia Barrino made an immediate impression on American Idol with her
stylized, gospel-influenced sound, and her explosive stage presence. Her
audition version of Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" made her an early
favorite in the competition, she also performed A Fool In Love on the live show
which was another Tina Turner hit. Her standout performance during the course of
the show was a heartfelt staging, begun seated, of the Porgy and Bess standard
"Summertime" that left her in tears from "feeling the song"
and earned raves from the judges, as well as landing her on the Emmy Awards's
2004 list of greatest television moments. "Summertime", was also
labeled by idol judge, Randy Jackson, as the best performance he had ever heard
in the show's history.
Nevertheless, Barrino's rise to the
final two on American Idol was plagued with controversies, including accusations
of racism when she and two other well-praised African American female singers in
the competition, LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson, all landed in the bottom
three of that week's voting. Guest artist Elton John labeled the outcome
"racist". Other concerns were raised over her as a single mother being
a poor role model. 
In the final performance of the season that formed the basis upon which
America voted, Barrino offered a second performance of "Summertime"
that again drew enormous praise from the judges—including Simon Cowell's
remarks that she was the best contestant among the over 70 Idol champions
crowned nationally and internationally since the show began its first global
incarnations. On the finale, over 65 million votes were cast in order to
determine the winner on May 26, 2004, up from 24 million in 2003 . It is
still the highest finale vote in the show's history. In the end Fantasia beat
out runner-up Diana DeGarmo by 1.3 million votes.  Barrino participated in
tour with the other American Idol finalists and appeared in the 2004 Christmas
special, Kelly, Ruben and Fantasia: Home For the Holidays.
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