Then A Single Mom to Zion, now 5, the High Point, North Carolina, native was a high-school dropout whose has reading difficulties made it tough to get a job. To support her daughter, "I found myself stealing milk, stealing pampers, " she tells Us. My life was going downhill." Zion's dad (whom Fantasia dated on/off) told her, "You aen't never going to be nothing," she says.
Now Finicky judge Simon Cowell called Season 3 Fantasia, 22, "the best contestant we've ever had", thanks to her unique voice and commanding stage presence. Her 2004 debut album, Free Yourself, has sold nearly 1.7 million copies, allowing her to splurge on a six-bedroom house in North Carolina - and a Mercedes SUV. "When I get into my car sometimes have anywhere to go - I just want to drive it!"
Fantasia tells Us. Her sophomore album Fantasia, has been critically praised, and she'll soon embark on a five week tour with Jamie Foxx. Says Fantasia (who's dating again) "This is all a blessing."