Fantasia Brings Her Overcoming Passion And Testimony To Los Angeles At Club Nokia Show
Any casual fan of music knows Fantasia Barrino as the 2004 winner of American Idol, or, possibly even as “Celie” from the Broadway musical The Color Purple. But, lately it seems that every time you hear her name, it is part of some controversy or tabloid story…
We live in a society where celebrities have been stripped of their privacy. Every move is uncovered, analyzed and commented upon by everyone who owns a home computer. The blogosphere is full of those trying to make a name at an artist’s expense. Fantasia is an artist who has borne the brunt of the media’s scrutiny. People forget that she is only 26 years old (and already has eight Grammy nominations). People cease to remember that great female artists, throughout the decades, have gone through controversies and drama (Billy Holliday, Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, etc.). For the truly great ones, the challenges only make them stronger.
Fantasia proved, on Wednesday night, that she is going to be upfront with her issues and allow her fans to see her vulnerability and her strength. She came out poised and collected and shared the passion that makes her an infectious performer. The Club Nokia crowd left inspired and looking forward to their Thanksgiving weekend.
After an inspired opening set from smooth-singing Eric Benet, Fantasia hit the stage with a dramatic, all-white outfit, complete with white lace gloves. She was backed by a remarkable band, complete with a talented horn section. This would be a night of multiple costume changes and bursts of her unique sound, broken up with breaks in the action where black and white mini-films were shown behind the band. Each film featured Fantasia, acting in the character of her upcoming “set.”
After energizing the crowd with her opening set, Fantasia returned to the stage in a short, glittery dress, complementing her straight bangs. She was all over the stage, stalking her audience and causing them to leave their seats and run to the front. She stopped, suddenly, and said, “LA, I don’t know what it is, but, I want to give you a kiss!” She performed a funked-out gospel version of Prince’s hit, “Kiss.” Fantasia has always been a great performer, but, her experience on Broadway has definitely taken her stage presence to another level. “Collard Greens And Cornbread” had her loyal following dancing in the aisles. Another exciting moment was “I’m Doin’ Me”, from her new album, “Back To Me.” It was a powerful prophetic statement about taking back her life for herself.
After leaving the stage, again, Barrno returned in a big, black-colored afro and all black outfit. A slideshow played on the screen behind her of black power images and civil rights moments, including Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The well-known bass riff of The Beatles’ anthem, “Come Together,” brought the room to a frenzy and Fantasia was definitely up for covering it. Her voice is so strong and powerful that it commands a certain attention and respect.
After changing into a short, black and silver dress, Fantasia remarked, “Have you ever been in love before?” She launched into, “Teach Me,” which obviously was well known by her fans, causing the diva to remark, “y’all stole my part” before ending with an acapella section. She performed a rising version of Diana Ross’ “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” “Who’s Been Lovin’ You,” featured a thumping hip-hop breakdown and a sax solo brought the night into it’s most powerful set…
The film featured a black and white interview with Fantasia, where the interviewer asked the pointed question, “What do you have to say about what people are saying about Fantasia?” The artist paused and then answered, “I say F*** it!” Applause rose from the audience.
The room went dark and out of nowhere, the Fantasia For Real star emerged in a stunning, long purple formal dress. She launched into the first single from her new album, “Bittersweet.” It contains the lyrics:
So even though I left you
I can’t forget you
‘Cause when I think about you
It’s bittersweet, it’s bittersweet
Guess I’ll always love you
It’s bittersweet, it’s bittersweet
She repeated the lyric, over and over, “I guess I just gotta’ let it go.” Everyone in the room was feeling her. She said, “Now it’s time to take it to Church.” We knew it was her time to speak on the controversy. “My Grandma tried to tell me… I get tired of these no good men… I’ll just wait for the Lord to bring me a good man, because it’s bitersweet.” Fantasia went on:
“LA… being up here makes me feel good… we are all a group of young people, just trying to make it through… we all have good and bad in us… you see, I’ve gotta’ embrace what I go through because it is my testimony… we have to share our testimony and be real because you never know who is listening and who it will help…
I have a new rule that I’m living by… I will never try to please everybody, again!”
The notes to “Even Angels” began and everyone knew this was the moment we were waiting for… Where an artist gets real… Where they get free. A photo of Martin Luther King Jr. looked down on Fantasia, as she cried. She left the stage with her loyal manager, Brian Dickens, who has been there for her through thick and thin.
What the LA crowd at Club Nokia experienced was some Thanksgiving encouragement from a performer who does not fear sharing her honest testimony. You get the feeling that Fantasia Barrino will be around, being her real self, for a long, long time!