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To Fantasia, life and music can never be separated. So when the 28-year-old, Grammy Award winner titled her third album Back to Me, she was making her current goals, both creative and personal, crystal clear.

Fantasia Monique Barrino knows a few things about winning. Following her triumph in the 2004 edition of American Idol, the song “I Believe” made her the first recording artist in history to debut at Number One on the Billboard charts with a debut single. Her album Free Yourself was certified platinum, while the follow-up, 2006’s Fantasia, featured the number-one R&B hit ”When I See U.”

Back to Me, which includes writing and producing contributions from such hitmakers as Ne-Yo, Claude Kelly, and Rico Love, may be Fantasia’s first new music in over three years, but that time has hardly been quiet. For a full year, she took on the role of Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple (she is also cast in the forthcoming film adaptation). She published her controversial memoir, Life is Not a Fairy Tale. Most recently, following a series of personal and professional challenges, she returned to the spotlight with the VH1 reality series Fantasia for Real. So when it came time to focus on her music again, she was itching to go.

With Back to Me, Fantasia is asserting her power, as a singer and as a woman. After a time of struggle and uncertainty, she’s writing a new chapter by taking on the greatest challenge of them all: regaining confidence in herself. “There have been a lot of questions, a lot of press—‘Who is she dating? Who is she with? Where is she at?,’” she says. “I think this album will give you everything you need. We put our heart into every song.

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