As one might imagine upon meeting the petite, 111-pound, 22-year-old known as Phatfffat, her weight has nothing to do with how she earned the sizable nickname.
"We were at CiCi's Pizza and I had a lotta pizza on my plate," recalls Dondria Nicole Fields, who was a freshman at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, at the time. "A friend said to me that I was not going to be able to eat all of it. And I said you just watch 'cause I will. I had pizza, pasta and some salad, and then those cinnamon icing dessert things, and I ate all of it and she was just surprised."
In a similar fashion, Phatfffat's been throwing her weight around online over the last few years. An angelic voice, pixie looks and her 'round-the-way-girl persona has helped her amass 2.8 million YouTube views, 25,000 MySpace friends, and 11,000 Twitter followers.
What started with a $15 webcam and the simple idea to post YouTube vids of herself singing a cappella R&B covers turned into an Internet phenomenon after her rendition of Ciara's "Promise" garnered more than 1 million hits. That's when Jermaine Dupri came calling. "I would get e-mails all the time from people claiming to be this or that," she says. "But Jermaine persisted, so I called him up one day and the rest is history."
After making a name for herself singing other people's songs, Dondria's been anxious to showcase her own musical identity since signing with Dupri's So So Def label in 2007. Her current single, "You're the One," is their second attempt at a radio-friendly ditty. And while it's garnering more spins than her 2008 single "Can't Stop," it still lacks the personality that made her Internet magic in the first place. Now that she has something to prove, there's little room for screaming out silly stuff like "Hey Mama!" in the middle of a verse as she's been known to do on YouTube. Her refined approach is also the inspiration behind the title of her upcoming album, Dondria vs. Phatfffat, due this spring.
"The girl that you saw on YouTube, the one that was eating her pizza and noodles, joking around, forgetting words, singing other people's songs, Dondria is more than that," she says. "She's an artist, she's motivated about her music, she sings her own songs, and she won't be joking around, laughing and forgetting her own words on the album."
Hopefully, she'll save room for Phatfffat, too.
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