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IMAGE: Barrino
Kevin Winter  /  Getty Images file
Fans are drawn to Fantasia Barrino's raspy, soulful voice.
updated 5/25/2004 11:30:17 AM ET 2004-05-25T15:30:17

Addie Collins knew when her granddaughter was young that fame and success lay ahead.

Sassy and energetic singer Fantasia Barrino has followed through on that promise, capturing a national following drawn to her raspy, soulful voice as she moved into the final trio on the televised singing competition “American Idol.”

“It was prophesized at age five that she would go to the nation,” Collins said. “That time has come.”

Actually, the time still awaits the judgment of a fickle, and sometimes tone-deaf, American public. But Barrino has already bypassed a few roadblocks on her short and uncertain road to reality-show success.

Barrino, 19, spent many days in High Point inside of her close-knit community church, singing at funerals, weddings and Sunday services and wrestling with how to achieve her dream.

Teenage motherhood could have derailed Barrino, who has a 2-year-old daughter, but she relied on her family and friends for support and prayer and moved on.

“Most teenagers do what they want to do,” Collins said. “She wanted to get a taste of the world. ... We never thought about putting her away. We just prayed her up out of low self-esteem.”

Barrino’s run on Fox’s starmaking show has also paid off, Collins said.

“She is growing in age and she is growing in grace,” she said. “’American Idol’ has helped her character and ability as a young, unwed mother.”

Judges love her
Barrino started her trek on the television show, now in its third season, with an audition in Atlanta.

With only a week left in the competition, she continues to reel in the praises of “Idol” judges.

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Randy Jackson has not only compared her Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson in terms of star quality, but said Barrino’s performance of “Summertime” was the best of all three seasons.

“She’s one of the only true stars we’ve had in the competition,” Jackson said. “I would sign Fantasia right now — win, lose, draw, whatever.”

But like most “Idol” hopefuls and their supporters, Barrino wants a win and the guaranteed record contract that comes with it.

“I think in this case Fantasia has such a beautiful spirit about herself and a voice that can reach out and touch many different people,” said Bruce Davis, a family friend and Guilford County commissioner. “She has such a uniqueness about her voice. A lot of people can sing but there’s something about her gift.”

Barrino developed that gift as her family followed her father, Joseph, around as he moved for his job. She dropped out of high school in her junior year when the family moved to Charlotte.

The family’s move back to High Point — and the church — brought a new sense of determination for Barrino.

And if history’s any barometer for success, after jazz-great John Coltrane, Barrino may be High Point’s next musical claim to fame.

Her hometown has rewarded her sense of purpose by rallying support for the singer starting with the show’s first episode.

Musical family
Supporters believed even then Barrino would make it far in the competition, Davis said.

And their numbers have grown. The die-hard started out as 40 people showing up to a viewing. A crowd of more than 3,000 turned up Thursday when Barrino returned home to receive the key to the city — 1,600 people in the packed auditorium and an identical amount waiting outside just to catch a glimpse of the hometown hero.

“I think she was absolutely blown away,” said Bernita Sims, a city council member that presented Barrino with a letter from North Carolina’s lieutenant governor. “She didn’t quite realize the level of support she had. We are very excited for her.”

In some ways, Fantasia’s talent as a singer was inevitable. It’s in her blood.

Generations of the Barrino family have been singers. And Barrino was even part of The Barrino Family, a band — consisting of her mother Diane, her father, two brothers and herself — that her grandmother said traveled all over and even produced CDs.

“She just come up out of the roots,” Collins said.

Barrino struggled in fan voting last week, finishing in the bottom two ahead of surprising evictee Latoya London, an early favorite to win the title.

Friends, family and fans are gearing up for the weeks leading to the May 25-26 season finale without letting conspiratorial reports of phone troubles and voting snags dampen their determination.

“Many fans were calling from New York, Baltimore and Washington (D.C.) and couldn’t get through,” Collins said.

“But we’re still determined. ... If it’s for her, it is so.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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