"The more people say you can't, the more you can. The more they talk negatively, the more you fight. You have to think about bettering your life and go after it. I don't care what you got to do. You only have one life to live, so do your thing." In one moment, with one tearful, touching performance of "Summertime," Fantasia captured the hearts, and the votes, of millions of "American Idol" fans. Her powerful voice and independent style made her an overnight national sensation. But life wasn't always sensational for Fantasia.Fantasia could have been just another sad statistic. At the age of seventeen, despite the promise of her extraordinary voice, she was just another young girl who dropped out of high school, a baby on her hip. Her life and her plans for her future seemed to be going nowhere. The choices she had made were closing every door to the life she had hoped to live. But Fantasia had been raised by strong women of faith. Both her grandmother and mother are preachers. She was raised with an unshakable faith in God, the kind of faith that she needed when it came time to rethink her choices and redirect her life. Fantasia hoped that by using her gift to inspire others, she would be able to someday take care of her family and herself.Now readers can share the intimate moments of her life. In "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, " Fantasia offers a deeply emotional look at her rise to the top and the life-altering revelations she came to during her lowest moments along the way. With a spirit as strong as her voice, she speaks with heartfelt, humorous frankness about what it takes to get off the wrong path and onto the right one. Fantasia confides in readers, walking with them through the trials of her family life and loving a man who didn't love her, through the challenge of being a baby mama to managing the joys and pressures of fame. She turns all that she's learned into uplifting life lessons, including: - Recognize your gift- You made your bed, now lie in it- Give props where props are due- Like mother, like daughter- It ain't about the blingFantasia keeps it real with her sassy, self-confident style and down-to-earth advice, making readers laugh and cry with her. Fantasia's story will inspire readers to believe in themselves and have the faith it takes to reach for their greatest potential.
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Fantasia began singing at the age of five. At nineteen, she became an American Idol winner. Her first album, Free Yourself, was released in November 2004 and went platinum in January 2005. She lives in Charlotte, N.C.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter 1: Recognize Your Gift
The Bible and my mother always say, "To whom much is given, much is required." That is how I live my life -- now. But it wasn't always that way. For most of my young life, much was not given. Maybe this saying means that much hardship has to be given before receiving the blessings that God intends. A lot has been required. But my experiences have shown me that the amount of pain you endure will eventually result in abundance, as long as you stay faithful.
Faith is a legacy for many women in my family, as are the legacies of teen pregnancy, being single mothers, emotional and physical abuse, and poverty. We have all survived it because of the church and our powerful belief in God and prayer. All of the women in my family have had
too many experiences for their years, and we seem much older than we are. Most people are surprised that I'm only twenty-one years old. But what seems mature and experienced is just me trying to survive. I have learned and seen a lot in my twenty-one years, but I still have a lot to learn. You will see that as you learn more about Fantasia.
People often ask me: Who is the real Fantasia? The answer is: What you see is what you get. I would consider myself a very sensitive, outgoing person, and I hope that shows in everything I do and how I treat everyone around me. I care very much about people, probably too much -- and I fall in love too easily, as you will see. I am just a country girl who loves the Lord and loves to have a good time. I still kick off my shoes every chance I get -- even on TV!
Like all southern folk, I like to have a good time. Country people have had too many bad times, and so we make a good time whenever we can. Although my family lived in High Point, North Carolina, which is technically a small city, we say that this is the country because we have seen big cities like L.A. and New York on TV. Country people place a lot of importance on their families. We rely on our families for every little thing like emotional support, takin' care of our kids, feeding us when we're hungry, or paying our electric bill when we lose our jobs. That's why family is so important to country folks. That's why when you go to the country you will see aunts and uncles living under the same roof with their mothers and other adults. That's why so many grandmothers raise their grandkids when the mothers are too young to handle it. Country folks are really different from city folks because the city folks seem ashamed to tell their families when they are having hard times. For us, hard times are just a way of life. That's the main difference between country folk and city folk that you should know when you read the rest of my story. There is no shame with families like mine. If there was, there would be no families where I come from.
Despite the turmoils and troubles I've had in my life, the things that have always been constants were my mother's support and love. Even when she couldn't be there for me, she kept me lifted in prayer. When I was a teenager and was goin' through so many hardships, my mother was always with me. Really, she is me in many ways.
But let me explain by starting at the beginning.
My forty-two-year-old mother, Diane Barrino, is a self-proclaimed "country girl" who got pregnant as a teenager. She was nineteen years old. I would say that in some ways, she was luckier than me, and in other ways, I was luckier than her. You'll see as you read my story that much hardship has been required of both of us.
My mother was also raised in the church because her mother, Addie Collins, is a pastor. Just like me, my mother got pregnant by a guy in the church. Of course, she was a singer too and a member of the choir. It was her love of music that brought her together with my father, Joseph. He was in the church quartet and had been asking a lot of questions about my mama. He finally got her phone number, and they started dating. My mother tells us kids that she didn't like my father at first. Mom fell in love with him when she heard him sing. He was able to teach my mother a lot about music because, despite loving it so much, she didn't know anything except how to sing. In her early days, my mother was a baad singer. She was raw. She could squall, and her cry sounded like an old woman with many years of grief and wisdom in her spirit.
My mother did have some grief in her past: My grandfather, who was originally from South Carolina, was an alcoholic and abused my grandmother. Grandfather Neil eventually left my grandmother and she was left to raise her three daughters on her own. Grandma Addie's oldest was also named Addie; then there was Diane (my mama), and Surayda. My Grandma Addie had the same dreams for my mother that my mother had for me. Addie's dream was that my mother would go to music school. Right before my mother's pregnancy, Addie had taken her to look at music schools, and they hoped that she would get a scholarship.
Addie had always warned my mother, if you get pregnant you won't be able to follow your dream and become a singer. You won't get to do what the other girls do like go to the movies. And, if you get pregnant, Addie warned, "You will be on your own -- no man will help you, and I don't have much to help you with either."
Within twelve months of my parents meeting, my older brother, Kassim VonRico Washington, was born. We call him Rico for short. At the time, my parents were not married, and so his last name is my mother's maiden name. After Rico was born, my mother got a job working in the cafeteria at the Presbyterian Nursing Home while Addie took care of Rico.
Then, eleven months later, my other brother, Joseph, who is named after my father, was born. His nickname is Tiny. That is all we have ever called him.
Family rumor has it that my father's family has Cuban lineage, which would explain my last name -- kind of unusual for a black southern man from North Carolina. My father, JoJo, was more gracious than my own "baby daddy." He actually agreed to marry my mother and take care of their two sons. That's why I sometimes say that Mama was luckier than me.
The marriage must have been going well enough because three years later I was born, making the Barrino family five. Grandma Addie was a strong supporter of my parents, sometimes financially, but mostly helping when my mama didn't have enough food for her kids. Most importantly, Addie will go down in history as the woman who crowned me with the crazy name, Fantasia. My grandmother got the name from the Princess House line of fine crystal and gifts. The Fantasia line was supposed to be one of the fancier lines of the gifts. Perhaps my grandmother knew something that I didn't know about how I would turn out.
My parent's marriage was still going strong because nine years later, the Barrino family became six when my mother had my little brother, Xavier. When we kids were small, my mother worked several odd jobs trying to pay the family's seventy-dollar-a-month rent. She worked at hospitals, daycare centers, and sang for anyone in the church who would ask her to sing at their family weddings and funerals.
My father was a truck driver and was away a lot of the time, also tryin' to make ends meet. They struggled along to pay the utility bill, asking for help from whoever had it that month. Even though my father was not at home much, he had a presence in our house. I loved my father because he stayed. Most of the kids who lived around us didn't have daddies. The daddies had left, were in jail, or dead. My father seemed to have so much power in anything he did. I will never forget the sound of his boots walking down the hall in the morning. That sound always made me feel secure and that we were better off than the other kids because we had a daddy. I remember secretly watching him from the crack of the bathroom door, which he left open as he shaved. He was always wearing jeans and an undershirt. I thought my daddy was the most handsome man in the world, and I remember watching him worry about every wavy black hair, making sure they were perfect. My father always smelled good, and the strong smell of his aftershave would linger long after he had left the house. His smell just put fear and discipline into my heart and kept me on my best behavior until he came back. All he had to do to discipline me was to look at me. When he was coming home from off the road, we just all knew that the king had arrived.
High Point, North Carolina, is about an hour and a half north of Charlotte. We moved several times to Charlotte and Winston-Salem, neighboring cities that sometimes had better opportunities for my father. We always came back to High Point, though. High Point is actually a very small city with less than 100,000 residents. It is most famous for the furniture outlets where both rich and middle-class people come to buy furniture at wholesale prices. High Point's downtown area is sprinkled with furniture strip malls, and in between the small wood-frame and shingled houses throughout the city, there are churches with names that I will never forget, like Charity Baptist Church, Living Water Baptist Church, Church of Christ, and Galilean Missionary Church. Faith and furniture are the main resources in High Point, North Carolina.
People from High Point are not usually rich. It is a city of workin' folks, and the only money that comes into the city is the money from the bargain hunters looking for furniture. Most people in High Point don't have a lot to be proud of, but they do take pride in being from the furniture capital.
As you drive toward High Point north from Charlotte, the first city is Thomasville, named after the famous furniture manufacturer. The very next city along Interstate 85 is High Point. Although High Point is a major destination throughout the South, it still has a two-lane road as if the city is afraid that one day the people will stop comin'. As you enter High Point, you can feel the pressure of the city as you're trapped in a traffic jam. The first local spot that you see on 85 North heading into High Point is the Paradise Hotel, which...
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