Fantasia says ‘American Idol’ needs new judges

Since winning “American Idol” in 2004, Fantasia Barrino has been one of R&B’s strongest voices and among the most accomplished singers in the genre.

The North Carolina native has put out 4 award-winning albums and has been praised for her role as “Ms. Celie” in the Broadway production of The Colored Purple. With her latest album Side Effects of You in stores now, Fantasia chatted with theGrio about her career and if “Idol” still has star making power.

TheGrio:  What does Side Effects of You represent for you as a veteran singer?

Fantasia: I’m in a great place now. I got in the game at a very young age. In the beginning it’s fabulous, it’s the glitz, it’s the glamour and everyone is happy.

My grandmother used to tell me “to whom much is given, much is required.” Everything went so fast with winning American Idol.

Everyone around me was happy and saying, “I love you”…I look around now and none of those people are here now. They left me with a lot of baggage and things that I needed to clear up.

To be at this point now, I’m so proud of myself for making it through. It didn’t knock me down; I’m still standing in this game.

TheGrio: Do you feel American Idol still has the star making potential it did when you were coming up 10 years ago?

FB:  Umm I do…I always say you can’t turn somebody into a star; you’re born that way.

Whenever I see somebody hit the stage I can always point them out and say, “Yo that person is special.” And when I say special, I mean that is what they are destined to do.

Even when Carrie Underwood was on that year on Idol, I told them, “She’s the one, she’s special.” So I don’t think it’s up to the judges. They are just vessels to push and promote that person to where God ends up wanting their life.

You were on when it was the classic line up of American Idol judges of Simon, Randy and Paula. Now American Idol has experimented with multiple judges critiquing new contestants. Do you think that plays into them not making stars?

FB: I think a lot of people do a lot of searching and changing to bring up the ratings. And in the beginning of American Idol, they show the funny stuff and the outtakes, but when the show comes to the top 12, it’s official. The “sangers” come out.

In my year we had Jennifer Hudson, Latoya London. We had some “sangers” and they should bring it back to that.

Bring in the legends like Gladys Knight, bring Elton John and Aretha Franklin. Bring in someone to sit on that panel with an actual ear and eye to say, “Yo that’s a star” and not just people to bring up ratings.