When La’Porsha Renae took to the American Idol stage to sing her coronation song “Battles” in the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday night (April 6), the composer of the song, Who is Fancy, was in the audience shedding tears of pride.
“She sings the fire out of that song,” Fancy (real name Jake Hagood) tells Billboard. “I cried like a baby listening to her because the song is so meaningful to me, and to know that someone like La’Porsha can put her story into it goes to the testament of the song. Everyone has a battle.”
The battle that inspired Fancy — who is signed to Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records as a writer and in the process of “exiting” Republic Records — to write such a beautiful song came from his friendship with former X Factor contestant and G.R.L. member Simone Battle, who tragically took her own life in September 2014.
“That was one of the major heartbreaks of my life because I was very close to Simone,” he says. “I was living with her at the time.”
Battle was “such a positive influence on my life and a strong friend to me,” he adds. “She was dealing with an internal battle that I didn’t know about. I wanted to write the song battles to remind people to always be kind because you don’t know the battles they are going through.”
The song came to him as he worked through his grief over the tragedy.
“I was in Nashville on a business trip when it happened,” he says. “I wrote ‘Battles’ for myself in my hotel room.”
Renae, he explains, was the perfect contestant to sing the song. Her well documented story of being a single mother and coming from a bad marriage resonated with Fancy.
“‘Battles’ is a great song for La’Porsha. I have been watching Idol and I know her story and I am so inspired by her,” he said. “It makes me feel very honored that somebody gets to sing those words and bring that song to life.”
“Battles” is available to download at iTunes. The American Idol finale is tomorrow night 8 pm EST on Fox.