Dondria Nicole Fields never had to send a demo tape to an A&R. She never stood in line to audition for “American Idol,” nor has she ever joined a girl group to get her foot in the door. Nope. Dondria, So So Def’s newest R&B singer with a stunning voice, got her big break in the music biz with the help of a $15 webcam and YouTube, the popular video-sharing website. But if you ask her, all of this – her online discovery, record deal and newfound music career – happened simply by accident.
On a whim, Dondria bought a webcam and decided to upload a singing video of her own. Her choice: an a cappella version of Musiq Soulchild’s “Love.” Within two weeks, the video earned over 1,000 views and garnered tons of encouragement from visitors. Inspired, Dondria began searching for instrumentals that she could videotape herself singing along to. At the request of her rapidly growing online fan base, she posted various clips of herself covering songs from “Diary” by Alicia Keys to Rihanna’s “Unfaithful.”
However, it was her stirring rendition of Ciara’s “Promise” – which received over a million views – that took the budding singer from homebound diva to a complete Internet sensation. One of those people happened to be So So Def CEO Jermaine Dupri, who tried for several weeks to connect with Dondria on both YouTube and MySpace. Thinking Dupri’s messages were from an impostor, Dondria initially ignored them. “I would get emails all the time from people claiming to be this or that. Most of the time, when I’d blow them off, they’d never hit back. But Jermaine persisted, so I called him up one day and the rest is history.”