Each day in June 2016, I celebrate National African American Music Month on The G-List Society blog by honoring the discography of an unsung music artist who greatly impacted mainstream music in Black America during the past 40 years.
Today, I am celebrating one of the most criminally underrated and underpromoted singers of today’s generation.
R&B songstress Fantasia instantly became an American household name in 2004 when millions of U.S. television viewers voted her to become the winner of the TV singing competition “American Idol” during the show’s third season. Through the show’s season, which drew an average of 20 million viewers weekly, Fantasia flexed her vocal gift and dynamic stage presence that captured the hearts of the show’s loyal watchers and cemented performances as some of the greatest moments in the show’s 15-year run. Remember when Fantasia, literally, laid it all on the floor with her stirring rendition of “Summertime?”
After winning “American Idol,” Fantasia released her U.S. debut album Free Yourself in the fall of 2004 to rave reviews from R&B enthusiasts that praised the singer for recording tunes that tailored to her personal journey and the women who related. Fantasia joined the likes of Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill and Whitney Houston as one of the esteemed few music acts who debuted a new music single at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with her debut single “I Believe.” That feat also landed Fantasia in the record books as being the second of five music acts to enter a song at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with their debut singles – as well as the first female singer, first Black American singer and first R&B singer. The success of Free Yourself was built on the success of two strong R&B radio singles “Truth Is” and the album title track, of which both outlasted almost all R&B singles released in 2004 and 2005.
‘Tasia, as affectionately called by her fans, released her eponymous second album, which garnered critical acclaim. The album featured the lead single “Hood Boy,” fan-favorite ballad “I Feel Beautiful” and the most-played R&B radio single of 2007 “When I See U.” The latter single dominated the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart for more than two months.
After the successful run of her second album, Fantasia diversified her talents to Broadway in the role of Celie in The Color Purple and reality television by starring in her show “Fantasia For Real.” In “For Real,” ‘Tasia took fans and viewers in her private life with family and recording her third album, eventually titled Back To Me.
Back To Me was released in the summer of 2010. That period saw many of Fantasia’s R&B contemporaries experiment with Eurocentric dance flavors in their music releases. Because she stuck with her R&B roots in her third album and recorded a stunning collection of empowering R&B tunes and storytelling soul music, Fantasia was applauded by critics and fans as they enjoyed cuts from the album including “Bittersweet,” “I’m Doing Me” and “Man Of The House.”
Fantasia took another three-year break from recording to embark on tours and other forms of entertainment and followed up with her most critically-acclaimed album in 2013 titled Side Effects Of You. Fantasia was praised for the opus’ eclectic R&B sounds, including the stellar collaboration “Without Me” featuring rap icon Missy Elliott and R&B singer Kelly Rowland.
R&B enthusiasts are eager for the release of Fantasia’s upcoming fifth studio album The Definition Of…, debuting in July 2016, and the promising album seems to be the North Carolina native’s most diverse sounding LP in her discography. With the tracks “No Time For It” “So Blue” “Ugly” and “Sleeping With The One I Love” debut throughout the spring 2016, fans are craving to hear the album’s colorful output in its entirety.
Because 2016 marks Fantasia’s 12th year as a mainstream R&B music artist, I selected 12 definitive cuts recorded by the singing sensation that justified her mark as a budding icon of soul music and one of the greats of today’s generation of Black American musicians.
1. “Bittersweet” (album: Back To Me )
2. “Without Me” (album: Side Effects Of Me )
3. “Free Yourself” (album: Free Yourself )
4. “Lose To Win” (album: Side Effects Of You )
5. “Truth Is” (album: Free Yourself )
6. “When I See U” (album: Fantasia )
7. “I Feel Beautiful” (album: Fantasia )
8. “Collard Greens & Cornbread” (album: Back To Me )
9. “I’m Doin’ Me” (album: Back To Me )
10. “Man Of The House” (album: Back To Me )
11. “Hood Boy” (album: Fantasia )
12. “Baby Mama” (album: Free Yourself )