Fantasia has gotten oodles of praise over the past couple of years for her searing role as Celie, the uneducated black woman in rural Georgia from the 1930s in the musical version of Alice Walker’s classic book “The Color Purple.”
That praise is well earned. I caught her last night on opening night in Atlanta. (She’s here through Sept. 27). Celie is an extraordinarily difficult role, requiring a blend of innocence, pain and strength. The woman is raped, beaten down, separated from her sister, yet ultimately thrives. Fantasia’s personal journey to “Idol,” which included being beaten by her partner and rearing a child as a teen, gave her the blueprint to channel Celie.
She brings humor, she brings pathos and she can sing the bejesus out of the score. When she finally stands up to Albert, the man she was forced to marry, she sings, “I’m black, I’m poor, I’m ugly… but I’m heeeeere!” it’s a catharsis.