Fantasia can’t read but still learned lyrics to songs and signed Idol contracts

American Idol 3 winner Fantasia released her memoir, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, on Friday, and it reveals, among other things, that she is illiterate and was once raped.

20/20 reported Friday that, during the competition, Fantasia “was hiding the fact that she was barely able to read or write.” She says that she faked her way through those parts that required her to read. “Somebody would say, ‘You know, it’s pronounced this way’ and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, you know, I’m country, you know,” she said. 20/20 reports that when she had to sing Gershwin’s “Summertime,” “Fantasia listened to the words, memorized them and did such a good job the sultry tune became her theme song.”

Fantasia also said she signed the show’s contracts without reading them. “Didn’t even know what I was signing. Just sign the contract.” She is now “working with tutors to learn how to read,” 20/20 reports, in part so she can read to her daughter.

In her book, Fantasia also discusses the time “she was raped in the 9th grade by a popular boy on whom she had a crush. She claims he abused her in the school auditorium, and she went straight home and got into bed,” 20/20 reports. Fantasia said, “One point in time I was saying it was my fault — just because of the way I was dressed, I caused it on myself.”

Update: Fantasia responds to the characterization that she’s “illiterate”

Fantasia’s Memoirs Reveal Experiences With Illiteracy, Rape [ABC News 20/20]
Life Is Not a Fairy Tale Amazon]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.