fantasia barrino*The R&B diva and Grammy award winning female vocalist is certainly no stranger to controversy and criticism.

But a resilient and liberated Fantasia took to the stage at the 30th Annual Long Beach Gay Pride Festival on Saturday night in Long Beach, California, rendering a passionate performance.

Audaciously fierce and more confident than ever, “Tasia” boldly proclaimed, “I am doin’ me and I don’t care what nobody has to say,” before kicking off her heels onstage.

Dressed in a white, tightly fitted cutout party dress, and revealing a much more slender and toned figure, the exceptional vocalist pumped up the crowd with her brief rendition of Drake’s “Started From The Bottom.”

If the relationship between Fantasia and the LGBT community was strained by her seemingly disapproving comment about gay marriage posted on Instagram in late December of last year, there was certainly no evidence of that as the crowd of thousands eagerly welcomed and embraced her.

To further demonstrate her affection for the supportive attendees, she spent several minutes stating, “I hate the gates” and requested venue workers to “open the gates” that were serving as a barrier between the stage and the front row of the audience.  She went on to clarify that she needed to “feel some people”—a gesture in alignment with her personable and down-to-earth reputation.

But after a bit of housekeeping, ‘Tasia didn’t waste any time kicking into high vocal gear with crowd favorites like “Man of the House,” “Free Yourself” and “Collards and Cornbread.”

Moments after confessing that she was a “music baby” who grew up on the “meat and potatoes” music from the 80s, Fantasia and her band brought the crowd to its feet with an invigorating throwback performance of “Nasty Girl” by Vanity 6, “In My House” by the Mary Jane Girls, Shelia E’s “The Glamorous Life” and “The Bird” by Morris Day & The Time.

Visibly empowered and energized, ‘Tasia continued to walk the crowd down memory lane with her rendition of “If I Ruled The World.”

Although concert goers got a strong sense of Fantasia’s reawakening as an individual and as an artist, when she performed “Bittersweet” and “Even Angels,” humbly stating, “Guess I gotta’ let it go, the situation wasn’t good for me,” we got a sense that Ms. Barrino is still in the process of recovering from the effects of failed relationships and disappointments.  And this could be no clearer than in her hit song, “Lose to Win” which she sang near the close of her performance.

Fantasia’s success with her newly released fourth album, Side Effects of You, and her recent Pride appearance certainly indicates that she’s on the upswing in her career.  Her performance of “Lighthouse” revealed that she remains undaunted by her critics and is determined to continue recording and performing with a greater sense of purpose.   In a nutshell, she’s finally “winning” again.

 Dana Stringer is a freelance writer, playwright, poet and activist based in Southern California.  You may contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Facebook and Twitter: @danalstringer.

dana l. stringer

Dana L. Stringer