Fantasia Barrino: A Bajan love story

luigimarshall, luigimarshall@nationnews.com

Added 25 June 2011

fantasia

SHE STOLE HEARTS the world over with her inspiring story, powerful and soulful voice, humble personality and shapely figure but it seems that one island nation was particularly smitten by Fantasia –  Barbados. Her music has been a staple on local radio since she burst onto the airwaves with her platinum-certified No.1 smash hit I Believe. Baby Mama, Truth Is, When I See You, Summertime and Free Yourself were just a few of her chart-toppers. It came as no surprise therefore that she had a fan base in Barbados. And producers of the annual Barbados Music Awards (BMAs) found out first-hand last year just how massive her fan base truly was. After hosting headliners including Rihanna, CeCe Winans, Regina Belle, Sizzla, Beenie Man, Peabo Bryson, Melba Moore, Dobby Dobson, Deborah Cox, En Vogue, Stephanie Mills, Jeffrey Osborne, Machel Montano and many others, Timeless broke all previous attendance records for its events when, in 2010, Fantasia headlined the fifth annual Barbados Music Awards. That night, before about 5 000 patrons, she made two appearances. First, she accepted the Barbados Music Award’s International Award Of Excellence, which she stated was her first ever international music award – much to the delight of the audience that included Joseph Jackson, father of the late Michael Jackson who was being honoured. When the southern diva hit the stage again it was, as they say, all over bar the shouting. Members of the audience ran from their seats to the front of the stage, screamed throughout her presentation and were rewarded with a performance which could only be described as stellar. Fantasia was mind-blowing. She serenaded everyone, from small children to the now late Prime Minister David Thompson, and had a spiritual connection with all present. Many speculated she was destined for Grammy recognition in the near or distant future and in February 2011, she took home the gong for her emotional soul ballad Bittersweet. That win, coupled with the deafening requests for Timeless to host a full-length Fantasia concert as the BMAs guest appearance was only 40 minutes, prompted them to conceptualize Fantasia Live In Concert. The Barbados Tourism Authority is so confident about the event that it has selected that night as the official night of entertainment for the 400 plus travel professionals from across the globe who will be in the island for Mega Fam, adding to what Timeless is predicting will be an audience of 75 per cent Barbadians and 25 per cent foreign visitors and professionals. The event will feature two halves. The first half will see the St Leonard’s Boys’ Choir and new artiste Nyron open for Barbados’ queen of soul Toni Norville in what is being billed as a must-see performance. Norville is currently developing her career in the United States with  Springle Entertainment Group and is carefully undergoing a transformation as she prepares to take another shot at a global career, which isn’t too far-fetched as she has proven for two decades that she has some of the best pipes and song-writing skills in the business. Her performance is being billed as a highlight and Norville will be backed by some of Barbados’ finest musicians. In the second half, patrons will see Fantasia pour her heart and soul into a 90-minute full-length concert performance with her incredible full backing band. With the American Idol trophy, Billboard Awards, NAACP Awards and now a Grammy Award in her pocket, who can doubt that Fantasia will bring the house down tomorrow at the Wildey Gymnasium?  

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