Free Yourself

Free Yourself

4.6 46
by Fantasia

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Third-season American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino wowed both the series' fans and jaded judges with her gospel-rooted vocal histrionics. But like previous AI winners Kelly and Ruben, Fantasia -- clearly the most charismatic of the three -- has a hard time translating her infectious stage presence onto her debut disc (surprisingly, even her showstopping…  See more details below


Third-season American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino wowed both the series' fans and jaded judges with her gospel-rooted vocal histrionics. But like previous AI winners Kelly and Ruben, Fantasia -- clearly the most charismatic of the three -- has a hard time translating her infectious stage presence onto her debut disc (surprisingly, even her showstopping rendition of the Gershwins' "Summertime" falls flat here). That said, Free Yourself is still more polished than any other Idol's first record, thanks to urban hitmakers Missy Elliott, Jermaine Dupri, and Rodney Jerkins. Although Fantasia's nasal timbre often recalls Macy Gray, her vocal range is far superior to Gray's; a more accurate comparison might be made to Mary J. Blige, most notably on the Missy-assisted "Good Lovin'." Like Blige, Fantasia is a round-the-way girl with a voice informed by adversity, and she makes sure listeners are aware of just how much she's struggled -- from growing up in the ghetto (the Brandy-reminiscent "This Is Me") to dealing with triflin' beaus (the kiss-off title track) and unrequited love ("Truth Is"). The album's biggest misstep (other than misprinted track listings), however, is Fantasia's loud-and-proud proclamation of being a "Baby Mama." Still, there's enough good material here for Fantasia's fans to fawn over, and plenty of promise for a career to be revered.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
"Love you Clive Davis, thanks for being so gangsta!" So says Fantasia Barrino -- now simply billed as "Fantasia" since divas are, by law, not allowed to have more than one name -- in the liner notes for her 2004 debut album, Free Yourself. This indicates both Barrino's relative naïveté and the nature of Free Yourself itself. Fantasia was the winner of the third American Idol competition in 2004, and while Clive Davis has shepherded all of the previous AmIdol winners and runner-ups, it's possible that Barrino had spent so little time in the music biz that she didn't grasp the depths of either Davis' legacy or his savvy, the latter of which was clearly on display on each AmIdol record. Under Davis' direction, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Ruben Studdard, and Clay Aiken all made records tailored for a specific audience, which is the reason they all had great success (well, with one notable exception), so it should come as no surprise that Davis has steered Barrino straight to the streets to make an album that thrives on urban R&B inflections and style. Free Yourself is looser and hipper than any previous AmIdol album. Gone is Matthew Wilder, who contributed to Kelly's debut; gone are Neil Sedaka and Aldo Nova, who featured heavily on Clay's album. In their place are Missy Elliott, Jermaine Dupri, and Rodney Jerkins, hip-hop hitmakers who give a good indication that this album is striving to seem fresh and hip, something that no other American Idol album has even attempted. Of course, the show-biz trappings haven't been completely abandoned -- Fantasia's showstopping rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime" has been revived, and it's been given an overwrought treatment that's slicker and more mannered than either of her performances of it on the show. And that reveals Fantasia's biggest weakness, which is part of the inherent flaw of American Idol: it rewards contestants who put on a show of being a great singer instead of actually being a great singer. Of all the third-season contestants, Barrino trumped all her competitors in terms of sheer dramatics and histrionics, and that made her more memorable than equally talented singers such as Latoya London. While Fantasia's Macy Gray-meets-Mary J. Blige-and-goes-Broadway voice may have made for great television, where it sounded unique when delivered in two-to-three-minute bursts, it grates over the course of a 13-track record. There's no doubt that she has chops, but the problem is her thin timbre, which is an acquired taste. To doubters, she seems to squawk her songs as much as sing them, but to her fans, it's all part of her idiosyncratic style. That argument was easier to accept when she was only on TV, but like all AmIdol winners, she is less impressive on record than she is on the show. 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. If it delivers no knockout punches, at least it maintains the mood and groove from beginning to end and is considerably more fashionable than anything American Idol has yet produced.

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Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Fantasia   Primary Artist,Vocals
Gerald Albright   Saxophone
Maxi Anderson   Choir, Chorus
Louis Biancaniello   Keyboards
Debra Byrd   Choir, Chorus
Darius Campo   Violin
Larry Corbett   Cello
Joel Derouin   Violin
Kevin Dorsey   Choir, Chorus
Armen Garabedian   Violin
Berj Garabedian   Violin
Darlene Koldenhoven   Choir, Chorus
Bobbi Page   Choir, Chorus
Greg Phillinganes   Piano
Melanie Taylor   Choir, Chorus
Yvonne Williams   Choir, Chorus
Evan Wilson   Viola
John Wittenberg   Violin
Terry Wood   Choir, Chorus
Craig Brockman   Keyboards
Eric Dawkins   Background Vocals
Bob Peterson   Violin
Sam Watters   Background Vocals
Missy Elliott   Background Vocals
Jazze Pha   Rap
Natalie Leggett   Violin
Tony Wilkins   Choir, Chorus
Charles Pettaway   Guitar
Deborah Sharpe-Taylor   Choir, Chorus
Sara Parkins   Violin
Angela Fisher   Choir, Chorus
Lil' Steve   Background Vocals
Laurence Greenfield   Violin
Julian Hallmark   Violin
Nisan Stewart   Drums
Eric "Ebo" Butler   Choir, Chorus
Tank   Various
Dan Smith   Cello
Nicholas Cooper   Choir, Chorus
Alyssa Park   Violin
Tamyra Gray   Background Vocals
Byron Motley   Choir, Chorus
Allison Lilly   Background Vocals
Jazmine Sullivan   Background Vocals
Mario de León   Violin
Matthew Funes   Viola
Underdogs   Various

Technical Credits

Barbara Acklin   Composer
Ernie Isley   Composer
Eugene Record   Composer
Mark James   Composer
Phalon Alexander   Composer
Louis Biancaniello   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer
David Campbell   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Johnny Christopher   Composer
Steve Churchyard   Engineer
Jermaine Dupri   Composer,Producer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Ross Hogarth   Engineer
Marvin Isley   Composer
O'Kelly Isley   Composer
Ronald Isley   Composer
Bill Malina   Engineer
Yolanda McCullough   Engineer,Digital Editing
Tom Ranier   Orchestration
Brian Scheuble   Engineer
Robin Sellars   Engineer
Soulshock   Arranger,Producer,Instrumentation
Nigel Wright   Producer
Karlin   Arranger,Producer,Instrumentation
Craig Brockman   Composer,Producer
Rodney Jerkins   Composer,Producer
Damon Thomas   Composer
Sam Watters   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Missy Elliott   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Jazze Pha   Producer
DuBose Heyward   Composer
Charles Pettaway   Composer
Wayne Thompson   Composer
Ricky Lewis   Composer
Harvey Mason   Composer
Carsten Schack   Composer
John Horesco   Engineer
Johnta Austin   Composer
Alexis Yraola   Art Direction
Kamel Abdo   Engineer
Vito Colapietro   Composer
Neely Dinkins   Composer
Zachary Wallace   Composer
Ric Rude   Producer
Bryan-Michael Cox   Composer,Producer
Charile "CSUN" Bereal   drum programming
Harold Lilly   Composer,Producer
Dabling Harward   Engineer
Alex Cantrall   Composer
Chris LeBeau   Artwork
Nico Solis   Engineer
Antonio Dixon   Composer
Tamyra Gray   Composer
Carlos "El Loco" Bedoya   Programming,Engineer
Sean Garrett   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Vocal Producer
Soulshock & Karlin   Audio Production
Underdogs   Producer,Audio Production,Instrumentation

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Free Yourself 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the truth is that she is amazing i give it 5 stars and going to buy her cd on the 23rd i can't wait i love her voice
Guest More than 1 year ago
FANTASIA, formerly known as Fantasia Barrino delighted the AMA audience last night with a song off of her soon to be released new album, FREE YOURSELF. Ms. Fantasia has proven to be quite a force to be reckoned with. She has so far shown us that her career did not end with her win on American Idol. Her old fans will be delighted with the new songs as well as the old on her Album. Her new listeners will be the most delighted after having a chance to listen to Summertime and I Believe, which have become FANTASIA favorites among her many many fans around U.S. and abroad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! If these clips are any indication, this will be THE CD to have this season!! I am looking forward to hearing the full length songs!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is truly a great CD,Fantasia have always been a favorite of mind every since AI,she is truly a great singer no matter what they continue to say about her,keep doing what you do best and bringing us great music,and may god continue to bless you with the beautiful voice you so truly have....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantasia is a dynamo. She is the kind of artist that can not be put in a box or pigeon holed. She is ultra-talented and is not afraid to show total emotions while performing. I would rate her right up there with Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklin. I love the tracks from her upcoming CD. Full of truth and life. She is poised to be a great singer. Watch out World, a legend is in the making.
Guest More than 1 year ago
She makes a mockery of Summertime and You Were Always on my Mind. It is downright disgraceful. One song sounds like a mice screaming(this is supposed to be hip/hop rap whatever that awful music is, hows that for irony)And talking about all songs sounding the same, heres a winner. Same, old boring voice you heard on idol w/ outrageous innumerable "yea yea yea" you'll be sick to the point of wanting to throw up after listening to the CD more than two times. Well, judge for yourself, but its surely a flop, its not pleasant to the ears. Her voice is downright vehemently awful. If you have ears that dislike the sound of "nails on a chalkboard" don't buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was happy when Fantasia won on American Idol. I liked her hip-hop R&B Club feel. She seemed like the girl that you'd watch in the middle of the dance floor going "Heeeeey." But this album is the woman sitting at the small table in the corner with a cigarette in her mouth. For her bubbly personality, this album was a little bitter and way too hopeless romantic. My heart still beats fast to "Summertime", and I really enjoyed "Truth Is", "Selfish" and "Don't Act Right", but they had an up-beat dance feel to them. "Summertime" is kinda old school but she adds a lot of flavor to it. The rest of these songs just seem so Old School R&B. I'm not knocking Old School R&B, but I was looking for something different in this album. She's got a song called "Baby Mama" which congratulates women who have children and no man in their lives, who are also still doing things to improve their future regardless of dude being in their lives or not. But the rest of the cd sounds like she's chasing dude around begging him to come back or understand why he hasn't. The concept of this album is terrible but Fantasia's voice is beautiful. She just needs someone else to give her a new school feel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantasia...what can I say, I'm not suprised or shocked at all. This is just what I have been anticipating all these months. Fantasia is truly what the music industry needed. She shines a whole new light on music. She is our Princess of Soul. This is a talent that is unlike any other. People should stop hating on Fantasia, and just listen. This album speaks for itself. Clive Davis, Fantasia, and J Records has ha hit on their hands...whatever singles are released from here, is automatically an attention grabber. God has given this talent that cant ever be taken away. Congrats Fantasia on a continuosly and successful career. REMEMBER SHE IS A STAR FOR LIFE....SHE HAS A TALENT...NOT SKILLS!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantasia is a great singer, performer and a great person overall and her album shows how great of an artist she is! i love the album can't stop playing it! She has a great Future Ahead! Way to go Fantasia!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely a breath of fresh air. I don't where the critics are coming from but for all the hard core R&B/soul music lovers, this is CD will give you chills. I've got mad love for Fantasia...for all those haters (critics), get over it. She's doing the darn thing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
FANTASIA'S ALBUM WAS GREAT! Her album entitled "Free Yourself" has a wide range of songs, from her show-stopping rendition of "Summertime" to her hip single mother antem "Baby Mama". Her voice sounds great as well as her lyrics. She is definetely an American Idol!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantasia's soulful voice is refreshing. I have been waiting for her cd and it was well worth it. All I can say is WOW!!! You go girl.
Guest More than 1 year ago
fantasia cd is off the hook. without any question is she the best AI
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've heard the entire cd over and over and over again!!! This girl is awesome, and Missy Elliott is true talent and I like Selfish the most, and It's all good is great! To tell the truth the entire cd should go platinum over and over again. This girl sings with heart, you feel what she feels, if she's in pain you can tell it, if she's happy you can feel that to. Special thanks to American Idol they are the ones responsible for getting her here and she was well worth the wait. She's going to be great! She already is to me! When do we get to see a video or two?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a rather naive album with very predictable music. The reason she won American Idol was because of her unpredictability. "Summertime" was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen and it came from her soul. This lacked the soul. It was overdone. I just hope she goes back to being herself with her next album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The woman is blessed and I'm glad I bought the C.D. and I don't buy CD' go Fantasia. Royal_T ILL-Noize, USA
Guest More than 1 year ago
I honestly hope that it does make good sales #'s because it is not onlythe BOMB!!! it is also very therapeutic. I know that a lot of women in our day and time would not only relate but appreciate this album. It like all those things that we have been feeling but could not find the words to express... Well this CD says it all and then adds a tight beat. I mean the beat is so tight it makes my little manufacture speakers sound good. I love the fact that when my man getting on my nerves and ain't acting right I can put it on and sing with it "IF YOU DON'T WANT ME THEN DON'T TALK TO ME GO AHEAD AND FREE YOURSELF" track #2 or "AIN'T GONE BEG YOU" track #1. He thinks about it listens to the words and he know what's up.... the CD is hot!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantasia has mixed the greatest of the old school music with a new urban twist. her CD isn't oly entertaining it is also moving. So if you do have it you're missing out on a good thing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd was very good for the the one that gave a bad review stop hating..the girl did the has a theme to it and if you have not been there then you are no going to understand.It is a shame when you cant give congrads, but haters will be haters...Fantasia you go girl and keep up the good work
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is really,really good if you have doubts about getting it you seriously should.She is the definition of "Star Power" this girl has it all and more her voice is so silky and just glides through every track that seems tailor made just for her
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well no wonder Fantasia has heavyweights like Aretha Franklin, Missy Elliot, R Kelly and more begging to work with her. No wonder America chose her as a winner for American Idol 3. This album is the best I've ever heard, she sounds like a veteran, her vocals are so pure, they sound amazing. The songs are unique and catchy. I recommend you buy 5 of these albums to share with family and friends, stuff those Christmas stockings with this great gift of FANTASIA, I know I will:)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I personally love the CD and the songs that she sings. Fantasia has shown on this first CD that she is a very versatile singer and performer. She has crossed over into all types of music from slow to up beat. I say you go girl and keep turning a deaf ear to the negative press and people who can not sing themselves, but just write opinions. Keep the faith and give God the glory for all the good things he has done. As far as the songs being out of order as printed, it does not matter, because in any order they all sound great. She will be in this business for a long time. Love you Tasia. From Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best R&B CD that I've heard in a long time. It is a beautiful masterpiece. Her voice is so unique; it simply sends shivers down my back. I know Fantasia will make it to the top of the charts with this one. I suggest EVERYONE BUY THIS CD!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this CD. Fantasia did her thing. I am so proud of her and i dont even know the girl. She has overcome a lot in her life and you can hear it and definately FEEL it when you listen to her music. Everyone should get this CD. It is WONDERFUL