When It Was Her: The Paula DeAnda Fiasco

by Armando Cervantes

When It Was Her: The Paula DeAnda Fiasco

Show of hands—Who knows what this little Latin R&B princess is up to? No hands, huh? Let's refresh your memory of this soulful Texas native, who helped bring back R&B and Soul music to the Latin community, and mold and shape the beauty of urban pop.

Born Paula Dacia DeAnda in 1989 November 3 to restaurant chain executive and Angelo State University alumni, and former faculty member, Steven DeAnda, and his beautiful wife and nurse Barbara DeAnda, in San Angelo, Texas. From an early age of two, Paula began to show exceptional talent in music, and was eventually placed in the church choirs. By age six, she took up piano, and was blessed at age eight to join the opera choir that gave her the opportunity to travel.

Paula's self-titled album showcased an interview titled, "Wild 94.9 Backstage with Paula DeAnda," that was hosted by Angel Garcia. Within the interview, she showcased her professional vocal warmups and her harmonies. Growing up, Paula contributed her voice to genres of gospel, country, contemporary Spanish soul, and R&B music. Paula's musical influences consisted of Whitney Houston, Selena, Aaliyah, Jo Dee Messina, Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, and Nivea. When she began to exceed her talent in R&B and soul music with hip hop and pop influences, she was able to stretch her skills for her age group.

By 2002, her family moved to Corpus Christi, a known musical hotspot that spawned numerous musical sensations. While there, Paula attended Mary Carrol High School, which is the same school Tejano-legend Selena attended. During her time in Corpus Christi, Paula began spread her wings, and perform locally at festivals, fairs, and concerts. More notably, Paula got much attraction performing the National Anthem at televised sport events. When she began to write her own music, she managed to earn herself studio time by way of getting attraction of local music producers. Ed Oacana took Paula under his wing, and helped her record her first single, "What Would It Take," which garnered her airplay across the country from the Midwest to the East Coast. This caught attention of many record labels, and confused audiences who mistook it for the voice of Michelle Williams. Not far after, she was asked to open for hip-hop artists Baby Bash, Nelly, and Frankie Jay, who were opening in Texas at the time. She and Baby Bash collaborated for her next single, "Doing Too Much," which would eventually be re-recorded and released officially for her self-titled album, and become her staple song. Arista Records (branch of Universal Music and Sony, BMG) would ask Paula to New York, where she would audition for Clive Davis himself, the music mogul known for establishing multiple music sensations, and being the president of the company. Paula was signed on the spot, and would go on to record her debut album.

Paula DeAnda came into the industry at the right, as there was drought of Latin artists in music industry, especially in R&B. It was the rise and fall of an era (a.k.a., the "no eyebrow" era) that Paula was the queen of. She was one of the freshest faces in R&B music, and one of the biggest artist to represent the Latin community, aside from Shakira, J-Lo, and others. Paula is the second generation Mexican-American of her family. Rising in her career, she had to uphold standards that were set for her, as Rolling Stone once considered her to be the next Latin R&B queen aside from Lisa Lisa and The Cult Jam. She was lucky enough to join Jojo, Natalie, Alicia Keys, Baby Bash, Christina Milian, Chris Brown, Lil' Mama, and Bow-Wow in concert.

Paula's album spawned three Billboard Hot 100 charting singles: her initial single "Doing Too Much ft. Baby Bash," "Easy ft. Lil' Wayne," and her highest-charting single to date, "Walk Away (Remember Me) ft. The DEY." Paula got to work with artists from Alicia Keys to Ne-Yo, and had the chance to work with Chris Brown, according to 93.1 The Fresh. she was on her way to the big league, making appearances on the Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Live With Regis And Kelly, Access Hollywood!, to MTV's Wild N' Out black team captain, and TRL's regular guest, next to Lindsay Lohan. By 2007 Paula's single, "Easy," got its first soundtrack enlistment into MTV's movie spin-off of their show, My Super Sweet 16: The Movie. They even casted Paula in the movie with a role that, according to co-star A.J. Michalka, was supposed to be much bigger, but she was busy at the time. Paula even publicly told fans she would be willing to do a sequel, where they considered giving her and co-star Cassie Davis the spotlight.

At the time of her single "Easy," Paula met much controversy and excitement. Paula and Jojo would be the girls to widely promote urban pop, which had been in absence, since many artist could not garner much success in the genre, but that wasn't the case for these two artist who met much praise for the rebirth of the genre. Paula's fan were confused not to see Lil' Wayne on the music video for "Easy," and see Bow Wow replace him and his lyrics. Both versions of the song charted and met airplay, and spawned rumors of relationships with many of her colleagues, most famously Timbaland, which proved to be false when Paula took MySpace to clear up the drama. Paula began to prepare for her sophomore album, and her contemporary Spanish album.

Alas, Paula began to face many setbacks and poor promotions. Her television interview credits were low, and she spent too much of her time on tour, instead of releasing her next singles. One single she released, "Stunned Out," met airplay, but did not chart, nor was it promoted by a music video. Soon, the single would disappear from digital download platforms, much like her early demo, "What Would It Take." This was due to sampling and licensing issues, that her label did not handle properly. By 2009, Paula's next buzz single, "Roll the Credits," would be her first song to chart in two years, but it only charted on the Bubbling Hot Under 100 Chart. At the same time, Clive Davis had left Arista Records, and Paula parted ways too, to become an independent artist. However, this was bad timing, as she was originally signed for a seven-album deal, and her promotion was incomplete, and sales began to decline. Her music was placed on Myspace and Yahoo! Music, which only allowed you to listen to the music with an account. Unknowingly the site would cease to exist in the following three years.

Paula took time to go on yet another tour, and write more music. Her website was removed, and she lost access to her video vlogs on YouTube, and she would later create an account to post numerous covers and remixes of songs. By 2010, Paula joined Cold Chamber Studio, where she would release her next single, "Besos," that charted on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart, and would be covered by Jojo. Paula filmed a music video, and reunited with producer Happy Perez. However, due to complications behind the scenes, Paula did not release the video. The commercial teaser for the video, however, is still on her mixer's channel. The following year, Paula would collaborate with Raider Nation rapper Enoc on their song, "Party Alive," which also declined in his album sales. Previous to that year Paula did a rendition of "Marvin's Room," which garnered airplay throughout the East Coast. At this time, Paula's fanbase began to abandon ship, as she was taking too long to release music. Many fans were upset that Paula's "Besos" was only on iTunes music. Paula was known for having the most followers on a social platform, and being most connected with her fans.

Thankfully, by 2013 Paula got the chance to perform the National Anthem on the live broadcasted fight for Canelo vs. Trout. The month to follow, Paula would rejoin Baby Bash on tour, and she would collaborate with M&Y in the bachata version to their song, "Your Place," that would be released on iTunes and Spotify, on behalf of TuneCore. The song was followed by a music video that met harsh reviews, because of her makeup in the video. The next year, Paula would join NBC's The Voice. She even did a commercial for Kohl's partnership with the show. Sadly, Paula was eliminated due to a breath stop, where her opponent belted out a higher note.

This only encouraged her to release her first EP, titled The Voices & The Beast, which she did with the Jump Smokers. In 2015, Paula released "Brand New," that restored her errors she made in the previous music video. Unfortunately, she did not promote the song properly, and it didn't meet as many views as the song promised. Three years later, the song would be removed from digital download as result of a falling out between herself and the song's co-writer, who requested it be taken down. Paula would later return to the Latin Grammy's as a guest, it being 10 years since her last appearance. From the time of her label departure to the time of "Brand New," Paula contributed to many charity events, magazine and clothing coverages, and even festivals with T-Boz. Paula announced her plan for PDA, the next album to be released by the artist. Paula did several compilations and collaboration records, but after returning for the National Anthem on television for Canelo's rematch. She later follow her fans up with "Don't Werk," that consisted of a Spanglish tune. By early 2019, Paula released her next collaboration with Waseem Stark and Dub Shakes, titled "Killin' My Vibe."

2019 seems like her year, as she released her follow up collaboration, "I Don't Wanna Wait" with Rico Rossi and M-Status. While releasing the music video for the single, she became a certified ambassador for Fashion Nova. Her single would later chart on the Urban Deutsche Charts, and debut at #30. Her next single, "Roll It," was released in honor of marijuana being legalized for recreational use; so it released on April 20, 2019. The music video to follow even gave her 100,000 subscribers. The only problem is that both videos have under a millions views, and is not being widely impactful like her earlier singles. Paula has been consistently asked to collaborate with Nivea, Lil' Mama, and Jojo, so possibly we will see her rejoin the charts again. Paula did attend the 2019 BET Awards this year, so maybe she would have had an even bigger comeback, if she had a shoutout from a celeb—Hello, Ashanti? Or if she signed to Jojo's record label; anyone remember that lap dance Jojo gave DeAnda? We still love you, Paula!

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Armando Cervantes
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