What's playing in Fantasia's ear?
Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com
The Color Purple isn't just the only Broadway show Fantasia Barrino has ever starred in—it's the only one she's ever seen. Three years after taking the American Idol title, the scrappy, resilient Grammy nominee is playing Celie, the Tony-nominated musical's scrappy, resilient lead. "I'm enjoying myself, but it's definitely tough," she says, in the raspy voice that gives her sound—steeped equally in gospel and Motown—its edge. "Without my headphones, I would go crazy," she says with a laugh, then gives us a listen.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (Universal Republic): "She writes her own lyrics, and her songs have an old-school feeling, especially the first track, 'Rehab.' She has such a soulful voice; I hear a little Billie Holiday in her, some Donny Hathaway—all the artists I love infuse her music."

Coko, Grateful (Light): "Listening to gospel early in the morning keeps me motivated. Coko was part of the R&B trio SWV in the '90s, and I always loved her voice. Now I'm on one of the tracks on her CD! It's a Clark Sisters cover called 'Endow Me.'"

Aerosmith, Devil's Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith (Columbia/Legacy): "I usually listen to R&B or hip-hop, but I'm a music lover so I'm open to everything. Aerosmith's 'Dream On' is a favorite because it's such a hopeful song."

India.Arie, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship (Motown): "Her music is soothing, so I listen to it when I get offstage. I can tell she's another woman who grew up listening to my idols—Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin. But still her sound is unique."

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