Fantasia Barrino Releases 'Free Yourself'

Fantasia is a compelling presence on television, and she has more charisma on record than any of her peers, but without the visuals, her vocals seem mannered and overly histrionic, which may suit her diva-in-waiting persona but doesn't necessarily make her a diva. Unfortunately, Free Yourself decides to play up that diva fantasy, mythologizing her downtrodden beginnings and status as a "Baby Mama" and throwing in several tracks that swagger as if she were already a rival to Mariah. This gives the enterprise a slightly distasteful undercurrent, but the album is well crafted, rarely sounding like a rush job -- only the covers of "Summertime" and "You Were Always on My Mind" sound chintzy, and Fantasia never sounds winded the way Ruben did on his record (however, it is inexcusable that the songs don't match the printed track listing on the initial pressings) -- and it gets by on its sound and style, both from the producers and Fantasia herself.

Free Yourself, since its debut, has sold over 1.7 million copies in the U.S. According to the album's producer, Clive Davis, sales are well over two million, and is certified platinum in the U.S. Free Yourself also managed to sell outside of the U.S., selling 200,000 copies in Canada.

The album had a series of hit singles with "Truth Is", "Baby Mama",and the title track, "Free Yourself", being huge R&B hits. With two of those songs reaching number one on the US Adult R&B Airplay chart, one being "Truth Is" which achieved a record stay at number one on the chart for a female artist at fourteen weeks. "It's All Good" was a Club hit reaching the top 10, and "Ain't Gonna Beg You" received radio airplay.