Inside JETSlideshow

Cover Story: Fantasia on Life Lessons, Self Love, Next Chapter

By// S. Tia Brown

Since winning American Idol in 2004, Fantasia has been on a journey. Her destination, a place called harmony. But her fantasia-300x428forward progress has been halted time and time again by failed pursuits of love and the accumulation of wealth. Hailing from a relatively small Southern town in North Carolina, the single mother was thrust into an unforgiving spotlight. Tours. Money. Scandal. They all followed. And suddenly she found herself unable to cope. Three years ago, America’s most unlikely sweetheart hit a personal low and was hospitalized due to overdosing on aspirin and a sleep aid.

With all Fantasia had on her fragile shoulders, it isn’t hard to understand why she chose to knock at death’s door. The Cancerian had fallen into a complicated relationship with a married man named Antwaun Cook. His wife later sued the star for Alienation of Affection, a law that allows spouses to prosecute third parties who are knowingly partners in an adulterous affair. In addition, well-publicized financial woes— threats of home foreclosure
and lawsuits— pushed the twenty-something, who was her family’s primary breadwinner, closer to a breakdown. Even post-hospitalization, her struggles continued.

“The game can take over your mind,” Fantasia shares with JET. “I was only 19 when I won American Idol. I didn’t really have many expectations. I just wanted to enjoy the ride ahead and make the best of it.”

Today, at 28, Fantasia has reached a place of independence— emotionally and financially. “Pleasing people became a main priority for me once upon a time. Now I put my own interests first,” she declares. “I am finally able
to love myself. The main thing I wanted in life was peace and freedom; the ability to let go.”

The removal of dead weight has been an agonizing process for Fantasia. But one that was much needed. The singer has revamped her approach to fi-
nances, men and, of course, making
hits. “You could say that the stage
saved me because when I’m in front of people I carry my pain and soul,” she offers. “That is my salvation. I know the entire world does not love me, but I
can give everyone some good music.”

According to the star, her new album, The Side Effects of You (out March 19), is a testimony over a drumbeat. The first single, “Lose to Win,” speaks of embracing pain and loss as a means to achieving your own greatness through that struggle.