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MUSIC Fantasia gets 'a little ugly'



Published: Thu, June 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 'American Idol' singer will perform in Ohio on Friday.

"American Idol 3" winner Fantasia Barrino is acting ugly again.

However, the term is less about demeanor and more about stage presence. Acting ugly is how this North Carolina native characterizes the notion of letting your hair down and just performing for an audience with your God-given vocal talents.

In hearing Barrino describe it, this was not the case with the rigid "American Idol" grind, where she wasn't allowed to be herself, having to look at certain cameras and sing for the judges. Still, the 2004 winner's vocal talents were undeniable and while other hopefuls vied for the "American Idol" title, she realized her goals were more personal.

"When I got on the ["American Idol"] stage, it was such a peaceful place for me," said Barrino, calling from a tour stop in Alabama. "It was like I'm going out here and I'm going to do my dream, which ever since I was a little kid was to perform in front of millions of people. And when I first stepped out on that stage, I said, 'Oh my God, my dream has come to pass. If I don't win, I made it here. I did what people said I couldn't do.'"

Earning respect

Naturally, overcoming obstacles is the nature of any reality show, but being a part of the "American Idol" phenomenon can mean recording a debut album and sustaining a career in the music industry. For Barrino, once the confetti stopped falling and the applause faded out, she found herself in a familiar position, which was overcoming the odds.

This time, it was gaining the respect of the music industry bigwigs. Early on, Barrino says a meeting with the music industry legend Clive Davis calmed her nerves and empowered her desire to record the debut album she wanted. This led to working with Missy Elliott and a slew of others who contributed to her 2004 debut disc "Free Yourself," which has sold more than a million copies to date.

"It's really a show where it's quick fame and a lot of times other artists don't take us serious," Barrino said. "So when I was in the studio with Missy Elliott, Jermaine Dupri and so many awesome people that could have said, 'We're not working with her, she's not a true artist,' these people took me in and just recognized my talent, which was cool."

Doing things her way

As for her first-ever tour, Barrino bided her time before hitting the road. Though she had many offers, it wasn't until the jazz-oriented Kem offered her a supporting slot, along with the R & amp;B singer Rahsaan Patterson, that the soon-to-be 21-year-old decided to jump aboard. The tour comes through Northeast Ohio Friday with a show at Playhouse Square Center's Palace Theatre.

More importantly, Barrino has her soulful band playing just the way she likes it every night.

"Yeah, we are getting a little ugly," Barrino said. "I tell them before we go on stage, 'Let's just have a good time.' There is nothing planned. We just go out and enjoy the music. It's like a big event. I tell the audience, 'If you can't dance, you're going to learn how to dance tonight.'"




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