You know what? I almost slept on Fantasia Barrino’s new (new to me) CD “Free Yourself”. I really don’t follow American Idol, but, I will be honest enough to say, that I was pulling for Fantasia because she was a black woman. I thought she had a strong voice and what seemed to be a very sincere personality. But, all in all, I didn’t think much would come of her win on AI, because she didn’t seem marketable.
However, I had the opportunity to really sit down and listen to her entire CD this weekend. It has been around my house, by way of my 14 year old, since Christmas. But, I was never interested frankly because of the single “Baby Mama”. Now ever time I hear that song, I just want to scream. Though I understand and relate to the message, it seemed too ghetto and stereotypical. Too much hollering. The song sounded like that cousin in church who the whole family thinks can sing, but she is really just hollering.
Anyway, I slipped in the CD and was absolutely blown away. With the exception of Baby Mama, I am feeling the entire album. This girl has a beautiful, strong voice. What a range! She puts me in the mind of Pattie LaBelle. I really got from the CD that she has a story to tell. I know that she was a single teenage mother. She has done an absolutely wonderful job of giving an overview of what females go through, mostly when they are young, when dealing with the opposite sex. I know that while listening, it brought back several memories of situations that I found myself when I was in my twenties.
The vocal stylings and arrangements were on point. The writing was incredible. The producers made this for Fantasia. They are not trying to make her into something she is not through her music and her image. This I can really respect. I love the song “Waiting” and “Truth Is”. This young woman has made some serious “grown woman” music. I can see myself listening to at least 4 tracks on her album years and years from now. I commend Fantasia on a wonderful freshman effort.
BUT, HERE COMES THE BULL CRAP!
I am of the opinion that talent is very secondary in the music industry. Because Fantasia is not a light skinned black woman with hair weaved down her behind, she will not be marketed very well. Ultimately, the consumer will miss out. But, it is unfortunate because the girl has real talent. She has a voice that is easy to listen to. Unlike another certain “yodeling” R&B female who shall remain nameless. Because she has, so far, remained clothed, kept her short hair cut, has not had a nose job and has yet to shake her butt all over creation, I believe Fantasia has failed to get the recognition for talent that she rightfully deserves.
Just for comparison sake, we will use Beyonce for starters. Fantasia is multi faceted in her singing. This woman can blow like that strong gospel singer in church that has chills running up your spine. On “Summertime” she exudes a very sultry 1920’s feel reminiscent of Sara Vaughn or Lena Horne. She nails every note on this song. On “Truth Is” she comes across very relatable and down to earth like Patti LaBelle. Sounds like she is just singing to herself, meaning every word she sings. Oh, and on the country and western ballad “Always on my Mind”, she puts her own soulful twist on this song. It is moving and passionate. I just love it. She is unlike a Beyonce who has yet to show full growth and maturity in her writing or singing. No, don’t bring up what she will be doing with Josh Groban on the Oscars. That is based on her selling, prime time image. She was not chosen to sing at the Oscars based on her talent as a singer. She has complete “cross over, white-wash” appeal and we all know what color, other than green, runs Hollywood. I am talking about her own solo efforts or with DC3. Beyonce’s music is still very “Mickey mouse” to me and I can’t see anyone wanting to hear “Soldier” or “Crazy” in 10 or 20 years. She is still making music for what I call “bubblegum boppers”. It just doesn’t seem like the music is growing with her. But, that just may very well be her style and that is her choice. And, that is fine. But it is unfortunate that true talents, like Fantasia, will probably never reach Beyonce’s superstar status all because of looks or lack there of. Is this 2005 or 1945? Why, as a race of people, are we still based on the color of skin? If it ain’t light, bright and dang near white with long tresses and tight dresses, we ain’t trying to look at it, or in this case hear it. We have really been brainwashed into thinking that looks and skin color are still just as important, if not more than, other attributes, such as REAL TALENT.
That’s why it has come to me that the consumers, yes us, are to blame. What do we want when we buy a CD? Do we want true talent or do we want to buy an image? Then we complain when an artist gives us 11 songs, written and recorded in 3 weeks. We, as true music lovers, need to demand real talent for our dollars and stop monetarily feeding into lack luster efforts done up by beauty queens. I mean, have we really become that superficial? Do we really care that much about looks? This particular message board seems to be comprised of people between the ages of 15 to 30-35. Fantasia is 19 or 20 years old. I can count on one hand the number of decent articles I have read about her on RNBdirt.com. Yet, the board is saturated with debates about Beyonce’s hair, or Ashanti’s dancing. Does anyone really care about the music? Is it all about being hip? How many “Fantasia Wallpapers” do you think adorn computers in America? How many “Fantasia Posters” do you think hang on the walls of teenagers bedrooms? Not as much as Beyonce or Ashanti. But, talent for talent, neither of the latter could hold their vocal weight against Fantasia. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe it takes a true music lover to be able to look past the physical and listen to the beautiful. Which do you find yourself doing?