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Paula Campbell is busy. After giving a heartfelt performance at Layla Lounge in Northeast D.C. where singers like Lil Mo' showed up to support her, Campbell chatted with Niteside about how she used her voice to take her out of the hard streets of Baltimore and into the spotlight. From juggling her singing career to being a mom to being a local radio personality, Campbell is well on her way.
You're known as "The Queen of the DMV" but most people don't know your story. How was it growing up on the West side of Baltimore and how has that shaped your career? Growing up in West Baltimore is definitely hard. People always refer to me as very sweet. Sugar is sweet, but it still has that gritty feel to it. That's how my upbringing shaped me -- being able to express the hard times [and] bringing that grit and that pain to the melody anytime I sing.
Your song style has been compared to many powerhouse voices in the R&B industry. Still, who are your inspirations as a singer? My inspirations are Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Faith Evans, Lil Mo, Tina Marie -- I like people that sang.
You once said that singing is your calling. Explain what you mean by that. At one point in time, I was very confused because I knew God wanted to use me, but I didn't know how exactly. ... My ministry is to young women who are teenage mothers, who think it's okay to sell drugs or think that there's no life outside of Baltimore. I used to believe I would never see anything outside of Baltimore because I wasn't good enough. I want to use my voice change the mentality I used to have.
How did being a teen mother shape your sound as a songstress? My daughter is amazing. She's so funny ... even before she was one [years old], I would sing a note and she would try to mimic what I was doing. What made me happy is what made her happy. I learned it was okay to continue to pursue my dreams and still be a mother.
Does she have a future as a singer? Yes! Definitely.
How did you hook up with Ne-Yo for your latest hit single "Denial"? We have the same management company, Task Force Marketing. ...[They] gave me some songs that Ne-Yo had done but he came into the studio and said, 'This is not for her.' Then he came up with 'Denial.'
You seem to dabble in everything from being a radio personality, label owner, singer and now you're writing a book. What's the book about? It's an autobiography, a memoir of my life. It's showing young women from the inner city that you can come from nothing and you can do whatever it is that you put your mind to. Most people are surprised by my story. They think I never had to struggle because I never allow that part of my life to be known.
For someone who has never heard of Paula Campbell, can you describe yourself in one word? There's so many words ... Miracle.
Paula Campbell is currently an independent artist. She recently released a mixtape called "Dreamaker" the Street Album.