Fantasia After 'Idol': From Fairy Tale to Bad Dream
By Rob Shuter Posted Aug 11th 2010 08:48AM
Six years after triumphantly winning the third season of 'American Idol,' Fantasia Barrino was rushed to a North Carolina hospital this week where she is being treated for an aspirin and sleeping pill overdose. This tragic U-turn in her fortunes has many asking: How did her fairytale life turn so quickly into a nightmare?
"Fantasia wrongly assumed that after she won 'Idol' that all her worries would disappear, and for a while they did," a friend of the singer tells me.
In 2004, Fantasia's debut single, 'I Believe,' made her the first artist in history to ever have their first single debut at number one. It remained in the top slot for eleven consecutive weeks, becoming the top selling single of 2004 in the USA. Her debut album, 'Free Yourself,' was released in November 2004 and was a huge hit -- in its first week, the album sold over 240,000 copies on its way to going platinum and earned Fantasia four Grammy nominations.
It was official. Fantasia, the single mother who once worried about paying her rent, was now the one thing she had only ever dreamed about becoming: a star.
Fantasia poses backstage during the VH1 Upfronts at Pier 59 Studios on April 20 in New York City. Check out more pics of the 'Idol' champ >>
Getty Images North America
The following year, her self-titled second album, 'Fantasia,' was released, and although it didn't do as well as her first CD, it was certified gold. Fantasia surprised everyone the following year when she announced she was putting her recording career on hold to star in the lead role of Celie in the Broadway musical 'The Color Purple.' (I saw her in the production and she was simply breathtaking.)
However, that's when things started to go wrong. First, Fantasia hurt her vocal cords while on Broadway, causing her to miss several shows. She was also dropped from the powerful 19 Entertainment management company and watched as her beloved $1.1 million home in Charlotte was put up for auction after she failed to repay money she was loaned to cover her 2006 taxes.
"It was very clear that the people she was surrounding herself with were not giving her great advice. It's very easy to think when you are on the top that the ride will never end," one industry insider tells me. "By the looks of things, she has very little to show for all the hard work she did. Where is all the money she earned? Very, very few artists have long-term careers like Madonna, the secret is to save as much as possible and make smart decisions while you are at the top. I'm afraid Fantasia didn't do this."
In addition to her financial troubles, Fantasia found herself at the middle of a very embarrassing scandal last week involving a married man and a sex tape.
"It all just got be too much for her," a record industry insider tells me. "Everyone wanted to be her friend the year she won 'Idol.' Now she's alone, wondering where have all those people gone."
Even with all the fair-weather friends, Fantasia isn't without her loyalists, including fellow 'Idol' winner Taylor Hicks.
"I've always been a huge Fantasia fan right from the first time I saw her on 'Idol,'" Hicks told me exclusively. "It was great to catch up and perform on stage with her at the 'American Idol' finale a few months ago. She was totally on her game and I hope to see her back singing again soon."
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