It’s not hard to see that Fantasia is absolutely glowing these days. It’s been 15 years since she won American Idol Season 3, and the Grammy-winning singer recently released her first independent album, Sketchbook. Fantasia has always considered her music to be her ministry, and when she sat down for an intimate interview on ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast, she put in a good word for the healing power of love.
In our conversation, Fantasia opened up about how meeting her husband, Kendall Taylor, helped her find herself and become the woman and artist she is today. Looking back on a complicated and sometimes turbulent past that included being hospitalized for an aspirin and sleep aid overdose and some drawn out and very public legal battles, Fantasia reflected that it’s her life behind the mic as a wife and mother that she’s most proud of today.
She and Taylor celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary this year, and her children—daughter Zion, 18, and son Dallas Xavier, 7, both from previous relationships— remain her greatest joys. Just as her album title suggests, Fantasia, who has never shied away from sharing her truth, has drawn a new picture of what happiness looks like, and she’s letting the world know.
I had to go through everything that I went through to get to this day.”
ESSENCE: As an artist, has moving into the independent space been freeing for you?
FANTASIA: Yeah. It’s very free. It feels good because I had gotten to a point where I said, If I can’t do my music the way I want to do it, then I don’t want to do it anymore. You see what I’m saying? We do what we do because we’re passionate about it and we love it. But when it becomes not fun anymore and you’re just clocking in every day, it takes away from the passion. And so I had to get to this place or else I just would have said, Hands down, I quit.
ESSENCE: Your fans appreciate your authenticity and how much your music has changed them.
FANTASIA: I get it all the time, and I love it. I get it in grocery stores, in the aisle, wherever. My husband will call me, like, “Babe, you told me to put the oven on 45 minutes ago.” I have to stand and be present. I have to hear them out and listen because they are why I do what I do. I get deep stories, y’all, which is probably because I’ve been so open with my own story.
There’s always one that comes right on time when I get a little discouraged or weak. We wake up every day, all of us, and go through those moments when we’re like, I’m just tired. What am I doing this for? Am I still good enough? We all have those moments. There’s always somebody who comes up to me and says, “I want you to keep going because you got me through.” Then I’ll leave out of whatever store or gas station I’m in, and I’m like, Okay, God, I see you. Thank you. I needed that.
ESSENCE: You appear stronger and more confident than ever. We know that your music got a lot of your fans through tough times and really lifted them up. What does that for you?
FANTASIA: I think it had a little something to do with my husband. I will have to say kudos to him because when he came into my life, he brought out a Fantasia that I didn’t even know was there. It started with my whole transition and my fasting time, because if I didn’t sit back and take the time to realize who I was and let go of some stuff, then I would have lost him. I say that a lot to women. They’ll walk up to me, and they’ll be like, “I want that same thing. How do you get it?” And I feel like you have to sit back and realize who you are first. How can you know what type of man you need if you don’t know who you are?
ESSENCE: You can’t see him if you don’t know.
FANTASIA: You have to get in that place where you realize who you are and what you want. You know what I mean? I believe that’s when it’ll come. When he came into my life, I realized the queen I was because of the king that he is.
ESSENCE: Love looks good on you, sis. Marriage and motherhood really fill you up.
FANTASIA: I always tell people I’m a wife and mother first. Marriage and motherhood give me what I really need. I don’t want my kids to ever grow up and be like, “My momma was never there for this or for that.” I make sure I am there for the most important things I need to be there for. Zion can call me anytime. I’m a volunteer at my son’s school, and I’m very involved.
Some of the moms will go on field trips and see me and be like, “What are you doing on a field trip?” I’m all, “You see my son right here?” We end up being cool. I always end up talking, and they’ll leave off like, “You know, you’re just…” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m just like you.”
ESSENCE: You’ve always give us that realness.
FANTASIA: I have to be that real. If I lose it, smack me three times and tell me to go home and come back out and try it again. I put myself in a lot of those situations where we become victims and ask, “God, why? Why don’t you do this? Why did you?” And He’s like, “Why didn’t you do it? I tried to show you.” I had to go through everything that I went through to get to this day. So I say to God, “I see what you did, and I didn’t listen, so you allowed me to go through that. You snatched everything away from me to help me realize a lot.” He works like that.
That other building didn’t last because the foundation wasn’t right. So now I’m getting the foundation right.”
ESSENCE: You have a very strong relationship with God. What do you pray for?
FANTASIA: Just wisdom and knowledge. I don’t ask him for anything special. Every day that I wake up, I’m like, “You did it again. You allowed me to see another day.” I’m just grateful for that. We can so easily miss out on all the little things that He’s placed in front of us. So now I get up, and I do my meditation. I’m big on my sage. I go through and sage my house. I show my kids that energy is a big thing. How you wake up in the morning is how your day is gon’ be. I do my affirmations, I speak life, and I ask Him for wisdom and knowledge. That’s it. That’s all.
Listen to the entire podcast interview below:
ESSENCE: This is truly a new beginning for you.
FANTASIA: I’ve been saying that this is ground zero for me; I’m starting over. That other building didn’t last because the foundation wasn’t right. So now I’m getting the foundation right. The Bible says, “Come as you are.”
This article originally appeared in the November issue of ESSENCE