Fantasia Barrino poses for a portrait to promote her new album “Side Effects of You,” in New York. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP)


by Mesfin Fekadu
AP Music Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Fantasia is feeling the love — and says she hasn’t felt this good since winning “American Idol” in 2004.

The singer’s fourth album, “Side Effects of You,” debuted at No. 1 and No. 2 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop and Top 200 albums charts last week. She said the response is both welcome and complicated, especially after her last few tumultuous years.

“It feels really good,” she said softly. “You have to be very careful because there was a time when I went from being up here and everybody loved you and then when (that) ole thing happened, it was like, ‘OK, everybody …’ — so it’s almost, like, tricky.”

Fantasia could be addressing a number of things that have bruised her image. In 2010, police believed they were responding to an attempted suicide after Fantasia overdosed on aspirin and other pills at her home in Charlotte, N.C., but her manager says she wasn’t trying to kill herself.

She gave birth to her son, Dallas, in 2011 and was trashed on blogs by people who said she had been in a relationship with a married man. She’s battled bad publicity and also endured financial and emotional woes.

But the singer has had her share of positive experiences, too, since becoming an “Idol” champ. She won her first Grammy Award in 2011, has released platinum and gold albums, and starred on Broadway in Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple.”

The big-voiced singer says she’s put the drama behind her and released both her pain and happiness on her new album.

She talked about her music, an upcoming tour with Andrea Bocelli and more in an interview with The Associated Press.

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