Fantasia Barrino made her singing debut long before she took to the American Idol stage in 2003. From the time she was five years old and singing in front of a mirror in her mother’s stage clothes, Fantasia was grooming herself for a successful vocal career. For Fantasia, music was very much a family business.
Both of Fantasia’s parents sing gospel. As a child, Fantasia and her brothers toured all over the south and east coast with her parent’s gospel group, The Barrino Family. From the age of nine until she began high school, Fantasia was around professional vocalists singing in front of the crowd. The Barrino Family recorded a single CD, Miracles, giving Fantasia professional studio singing experience at a young age. She draws her vocal influences heavily from the gospel and blues singers she grew up listening to—Aretha Franklin, Shirley Caesar and The Clark Sisters.
In middle school Fantasia tried out and won a spot on the all-county chorus. She already had a strong vocal background at this point, handed down to her from her mother and father. Chorus gave her the opportunity to fine-tune her skills by learning proper breathing, vocal exercises and form. She remained on the chorus until she dropped out of high school at the age of 16.
Her next stop on her climb to the top was teaching others to sing. She became choral director at her mother’s church, Mercy Outreach Church of Deliverance. She taught others to use the same skills she had been developing since she was a young child. Times were tough in Fantasia’s personal life at this point, as she was a single mother, a high school drop out and dealing with an abusive relationship. Yet, she still made time to sing and to share her love for the craft with others.
Fantasia’s strong vocals aren’t the only thing that made her an Idol winner. Her confident stage presence seems to come naturally, but Fantasia had to earn that confidence. Singing in front of others at a young age helped develop it, but her belief in herself and her abilities was what really sent her to the front of the pack.
While her time spent touring with The Barrino Family and singing with the chorus had made her a local celebrity, it wasn’t until she auditioned for American Idol that she finally entered the national arena. She brought her passion for soaring gospel songs to the popular tunes she sang on the Idol stage, earning her stardom with hard work and practice.