Excerpt: Fantasia Barrino's "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale"

As I started to grow up, I realized that I had a gift. I began to understand that the purpose of our music was no longer to satisfy my father, but to glorify God. Every time I took the microphone, my intention was to give my gift back to God. My singing started savin' souls and changin' lives. By the time we left a church, people would be shoutin' in the aisles, givin' praise to God, singin' and prayin'. I noticed even young people were being moved by my gift.

We were blessed early on. A record company based in the South approached us. But my father had been too quick to sign the contract. His childhood dreams were causing him to act without thinking. The rest of us didn't know enough or were too young to question his decisions, although they sounded a little fishy to my mother, who had warned him not to sign anything. My father signed anyway. We finally started seeing a little bit more money, but when the CDs came out, there was no mention of my mother as songwriter for any of the songs, and she had written them all. Someone else's name was listed as the songwriter and, because my father had signed the papers, there was nothing that we could do except watch our money go to someone else. My mother was too hurt even to speak about it since she had told him not to sign the deal. We had been taken. We were running out of money, quickly, and at the same time, our records were playing on the radio every day and our albums were selling out throughout the Carolinas. We were getting bookings, but we had no band because we had gained a reputation for not payin'. No one would work for free.

The last band that we had disappeared. They missed several rehearsals. Finally, they came over one night to apologize for their recent absences and to break the news that they had signed with Universal Records and were going on the road with a signed artist. It was a depressing time for the Barrino Family.

We had no money, but we were blessed with my mother's brother, Uncle Sonny, who always helped us when we most needed it. Uncle Sonny could always be relied on to get us some tuna sandwiches and French fries or some fried bologna or some money to pay a bill.

My brother Tiny finally got the nerve up when he was thirteen years old to tell my father that he didn't want to sing with the family anymore. He left the group to start working on his own musical interest in R&B. Rico left the group when he was fifteen for the same reason. He formed a group called Infinity Three. I didn't leave; I wasn't going anywhere.

We got more singers, and we recorded an album. I was twelve years old then. The album was called "Miracles," and that's what it was.

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