Fantasia moves forward despite personal challenges

Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:23pm EDT
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By Gail Mitchell

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Fantasia has endured a roller-coaster couple of weeks as the object of media attention.

First she was named in a divorce case that includes sex-tape allegations, and then she was hospitalized for a "medical overdose." But none of that is stopping the former "American Idol" champ from honoring a previously scheduled promotional tour in support of her third album, "Back to Me" (J Records, August 24).

"People think we beefed up all these TV commitments," says Carolyn Williams, senior vice president of marketing for RCA Music Group. Williams is referring to a label press release issued earlier detailing release-week appearances on "Good Morning America" (August 24) and "Lopez Tonight" (August 25), plus upcoming guest stints on "106 & Park" (September 8), "Live! With Regis and Kelly" (September 9) and "The Wendy Williams Show" (September 10).

"These were already on the calendar," Williams says. "There was talk of moving the album release date back, but this was Fantasia's decision. She wanted to move forward, and we support her."

Fantasia -- who will also appear at radio personality Steve Harvey's Hoodie Awards in Las Vegas (August 28) and fellow syndicated personality Tom Joyner's Family Reunion (September 4) -- will hit the promo circuit armed with a third chart-topping single. In the wake of the singer's personal travails, "Bittersweet" jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 on Billboard's Adult R&B list, joining previous chart-toppers "Free Yourself" and "Truth Is."

Responding to questions about the album via e-mail, Fantasia said the love- and independence-fueled "Back to Me" has "allowed her to give back exactly what and who everyone fell in love with" during her "Idol" turn.

"It's just me getting 'back to me' by singing songs that are age-appropriate yet showing growth," the singer said, citing "Bittersweet," album track "Collard Greens and Cornbread" ("reflecting my Southern roots") and the motivational bonus track "I'm Here" from the musical "The Color Purple" as examples.

RCA's Williams says a second single will be announced in the next weeks. Meanwhile, the Internet is buzzing about "Lucky," a newly leaked track that's not on the final album. Its lyrics revolve around the subject of a love triangle.

Premiering August 17 on Facebook and Amazon, "Back to Me" will garner additional attention when VH1's "Fantasia for Real" begins its second season September 19. The reality show attracted 2.3 million viewers when it debuted last January, averaging 1.2 million per episode, according to Nielsen. "Even Angels," which appears on the new album, was one of several songs showcased during the first season. This season's focus will include the marketing and promotion of the new album.

<p>Fantasia Barrino arrives at the 51st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles February 8, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>