When I first heard Fantasia Barrino attempted suicide, I was saddened. How could someone who apparently had it all decide to give up?

When I first heard Fantasia Barrino attempted suicide, I was saddened. How could someone who apparently had it all decide to give up?

Fantasia rose to stardom as the winner of Season 3 of “American Idol.” She beat out impressive talent to capture the prize, including the now Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson.

I remember watching “American Idol” the night it came down to Hudson and Fantasia for the bottom two. Neither contestant should have been in that predicament, considering it was for seventh place. I thought for sure Fantasia was going home. I think she thought so, too. Her face said it all. But when Hudson was sent home, Fantasia told her it was not the end and that Jesus loves her.

Hudson’s career took flight shortly there after.

Fantasia was a class act that night, and it may have led her to win “American Idol.”

Since winning, though, the R&B songstress has had a hard time winning over critics and industry heavyweights. I can’t understand why, either. She is a talented soul singer.

I’ve had the good fortune to see her perform live and meet her. She has such a sweet disposition, and her performance style is a throwback to some of the most powerful and influential divas of the music era — a young Patti LaBelle comes to mind.

Fantasia’s debut CD, “Free Yourself,” was certified platinum and spawned the No. 1 single “I Believe,” which became the top-selling single of 2004. It also contained the hits “Truth Is” and “Free Yourself.” The album garnered four Grammy nominations.

Her second album, “Fantasia,” went gold and earned the singer three more hit singles and three more Grammy nominations.

Are you seeing where this is going? She has done quite well, and yet you hardly ever hear about her career.

She earned serious praise for her role as Celie in the Broadway adaptation of “The Color Purple.”

Again, not much said about that, or that she will be starring in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical.

She did, however, make news for an attempted suicide on Aug. 9,  just weeks before the release of her third studio album, “Back To Me.”

Reps for the singer tried to deny the rumors, but Fantasia herself said she “wanted out.”

Again, this saddens me, but not for the reasons you might think. It saddens me because some idiot must have thought it would be a great way to sell records and maybe get a few more people to watch the second season of her VH1 reality series, “Fantasia For Real.”

I bought the record having already heard about her possible suicide attempt. I chose to believe it was the rumor mill at work, and not a publicity stunt. Regardless of what it truly was, “Back To Me,” is a great soul album.

The first single, “Bittersweet,” is maybe her at her best, until you listen to the song, “Collard Greens And Cornbread.” This is why Fantasia won “American Idol.”

“Back To Me” finds the singer’s vocals more contained and the arrangements a little less melodramatic, thanks to fellow collaborators’ Ne-Yo and Cee Lo Green.

Hey, Fantasia, this is not the end for you either, and Jesus does love you, too. All you have to do is remember the words you sang on your first single, “I Believe,” and the rest will come.

David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal correspondent. E-mail him at farrboy@hotmail.com.