Can dreams come true? Ask Paula DeAnda, the 16-year-old Corpus Christi resident who – in short order – found herself with a rhythm radio hit that made its way onto the Billboard charts (as a result of constant airplay throughout the South West), followed by a live audition in front of music industry legend Clive Davis who signed her on the spot in early 2006. Her first single “Doing Too Much” (featuring Baby Bash) has propelled Paula into the national spotlight, giving her the opportunity to perform across the country while completing her self-titled debut album for Arista.
Her debut features production by Happy Perez, Stargate, Frankie J., and Danja among others, and also benefited from the creative involvement of songwriter/recording artist Ne-Yo, renowned hitmaker Timbaland, chartmaking rapper Lil’ Wayne and Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren. With Clive Davis (Chairman of BMG US) overseeing the project as Executive Producer, Paula’s first album is filled with future hits, showcasing her skills as both a premiere vocalist and talented songwriter; she contributed to six of the CD’s thirteen cuts.
“The album has a lot of variety to it,” says Paula, in the midst of a whirlwind promo tour for “Doing Too Much” which has already received massive nationwide airplay on Top 40 and Rhythm radio formats, “and it was amazing working with all these great producers and songwriters. It’s more than I could ever have asked for my first album…” Singling out specific favorite tracks is a tough call for the upbeat teenager: “We tried to capture all kinds of moods, everything from the heartfelt ballad “Overloved” (penned by Diane Warren) to “Make ‘Em Clap To This” (featuring rapper Ak’sent), a serious club cut that everyone on MySpace loves! “When It Was Me” is a real cool song, all about a girl who sees her ex-boyfriend with a new girl and reflects on how the relationship with her ex- had been. I loved working with Ne-Yo (who oversaw vocal production for the track) on it…”
Speaking about songs she co-wrote for the album, Paula mentions “Easy,” a tough cut all about “playing hard to get and being a challenge for the guys! Having Lil’ Wayne on the track wasn’t planned. We were both in the same studio in Miami. Lil’ Wayne heard it, and about an hour later, he added his rap to it — it was really cool!” The infectious “Good Girl” and the mid-groove “Breathe” both co-written by DeAnda were both recorded in Paula’s Corpus Christi home base as was the club-friendly, ‘up’ track “Let’s Go Out Tonight” (featuring P.B.): “I’m just sixteen so I’m not going to the clubs yet,” Paula laughs, “but I can relate to the idea!” In addition to contributing as a songwriter to “Doing Too Much” (produced by Happy Perez), Paula put her writing stamp on “I’ll Be Down For You,” which she describes as “more of an urban kind of track that gives me the chance to show how soulful I can be.”
Paula’s musical abilities were immediately obvious to Arista executives who heard her in the spring of 2006: “I was shocked,” says the young singer/songwriter. “I sang for Steve Ferrera, Senior VP, A&R at Arista after Wendy Goodman in promotion department told him about me and how my record ‘Doing Too Much’ was getting airplay and was on the charts. Steve asked me to come back later that day to perform for Clive Davis who offered me a deal right there at my audition, and I had a signed contract by Friday evening.” When it sank in that she had been signed by one of the industry’s most renowned executives, Paula said “it was just as well I didn’t know everything he’d done…I would have probably been even more nervous!” Adds Davis, “Paula auditioned for us in my office, singing acappella and dazzled everyone. She has a powerful voice and is a triple threat as a writer and arranger. Signing her was a no brainer.”
That audition would prove to be a turning point: Paula sang the Spanish language song “Amor Como Tu” along with the R&B/pop flavored “Doing Too Much” and “Good Girl,” two songs which displayed her talent as not just a young singer with a powerhouse voice but as a songwriter in her own right. “I may not have lived through all the things I write about, but I do have friends who have had different experiences which I can put into my songs when I write,” Paula explains.
Her signing to Arista is just the latest in a series of events that have catapulted the young lady with the big voice from singing at local parties in San Angelo, Texas to becoming the latest chartmaker to emerge from the burgeoning Corpus Christi music scene.
Speaking about her early musical experiences, Paula laughs, “I remember singing with a hairbrush as my microphone. My cousins would be my dancers and I sang songs in English and Spanish.” Encouraged by her family who recognized her musicality, Paula began taking piano lessons, performing at weddings and local charity events. “I started to get feedback from the people I sang to. They told me my singing really touched them,” she says. “I never realized my music could have that effect. People would tell me I had a God-given blessing.” DeAnda family’s moved from San Angelo, TX to Corpus Christi, TX in 2002 to continue Paula’s music journey since Corpus Christi is known as a hub for new musical talent.
During the next few years, Paula continued working with various musicians and producers in the area. As word spread, Paula met her manager Ed Ocanas of E.D.O. Entertainment who positioned Paula as the opening act for superstars Nelly, Akon, former Kumbia Kings member Frankie J and rap star Baby Bash at the famed Corpus Christi Bayfest in 2005, performing in front of more than twenty thousand people. Ocanas also encouraged Paula to record a song “Doing Too Much” she co-wrote with Baby Bash (who is also featured on the track) and producers Happy Perez and Frankie J. That recording proved to be a turning point in her career.
“Doing Too Much” started getting local airplay at the start of 2006 and by the time Paula auditioned for Clive Davis, the song had made enough ‘noise’ to enter Billboard’s charts. In the wake of its success, Paula began working on her debut album in the spring of 2006, while attending high school in Corpus Christi. “It’s been hard work, recording and being out on the road promoting my first single,” says Paula, who says her current favorite artists include labelmate Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Keyshia Cole, “but I really love performing and doing live shows and I know all the work I’ve been doing now is going to pay off!”
Paula’s combination of talent along with the encouragement of friends and the support of family has been paying off with “Doing Too Much” introducing her to audiences from coast-to-coast and now eagerly awaiting the release of her self-titled CD. The smiling young singer/songwriter says that away from the studio and the stage, she’s “a typical teen who enjoys going to movies, attending dance classes, watching sports and, of course, shopping!” says: “I’m learning to balance everything: my career is my main focus but I know that it’s important to continue my education, hang out with my friends and spend time with my family.”
With slammin’ tracks like “So Cold” (which Paula says “may be my favorite track on the album”), the Frankie J.-produced “Wanna Be With You” (featuring V. Nice) and “Walk Away (Remember Me)” (featuring new rap group The DEY), produced by Stargate with vocal production by hitmaker Ne-Yo, Paula’s first Arista CD is eagerly awaited by the audience she’s been building through her first single. “All I can say is I’m very excited about what’s happening with my music! Getting the record deal, having a song on the radio. I’m still taking everything in and now with the release of my first album, I know this is just the beginning!”