For R&B singer/songwriter and artist, Dondria, the last two years have been a productive season of metamorphosis and reinvention! After going through a healing, explorative time, she’s back to her first love, music, and steering her career with a renewed purpose, self-awareness, attitude, and direction. To kick off 2023, she has released a new EP, Perspective, on her newly formed company, Awe Me Entertainment, in partnership with 630 Productions. She pours all her love, joy, trauma, and pain into the eight new songs available on streaming platforms.
TERRANCE: First, congratulations on the release of your new EP Perspective. Talk about the thought process behind it.
DONDRIA: Thank you. So, this project is, I would say, was a very inclusive one. Every song is written by myself and my co-writer and executive producer Josh Bias. We're also really good friends, so I'm grateful that he made space for me to just talk about my personal experiences and maybe even how I was feeling that day. A lot of these songs were written in real time and I was going through a breakup at the time.
TERRANCE: If there's one particular song that speaks to your current state of mind, what would it be?
DONDRIA: That would be "Let It Be". I call that song my re-introduction song. Kind of accepting that yes things have happened with music and the experiences have not all been great, but I still love music. I will never not love music. So, just with the wisdom I have and the knowledge that I have gained over the years, I'm ready to do it again. I'm ready to give it another try, but this time as a different version of myself and just trusting that it will be great and coming to this space of understanding because at the end of the day, music will always be my first love. This is where I live. This is my vehicle to impact, inspire and motivate the people, so we're gonna get to work.
TERRANCE: What do you appreciate the most about what Avery Wilson and Josh Bias brought to the project?
DONDRIA: You know I have yet to do a collaboration with another female and I'm open to it. I have some things in the works, but just up to date, I've yet to do one and I feel like whenever I connect with another male that's talented and great in their own space, it's just always a beautiful marriage, I think. I love duets, male and female in particular. With Avery Wilson, he's just amazing and unique. I don't know what all to say about Avery, but outside of his amazing talent, he's a great person and he's genuine. I remember conversations that we've had earlier on before even thinking about doing a song together, about our experiences in the music industry. He's had moments where he's been let down as well and so that's where we connected and I knew that with "You And I", he would appreciate the essence of the song and that it's a true R&B, soulful record. So, I was excited to present that to him and in fact that was the first record that Josh and I wrote before we even knew there would be an EP. That was the first song we wrote and we were trying to figure out where we wanted to go from there, so that song is pretty special. And then Josh, that's my friend, that's my homie. We've known each other for over ten years and so I thought it would be nice to have something fun and something to share on this EP since we've both put so much work into it. I thought "What I Need" was kind of like our celebratory song like our trophy, like, we did it! And we do the business together because we're business partners on this project, but we're also friends and we're also artists. Like, let's just do it all together on this project.
TERRANCE: What inspired the song "Lose Myself"?
DONDRIA: I was in that space when we wrote that song in real time. There is a dual perspective, but the very first perspective was me kind of reflecting on my previous relationship and just asking myself, have I gotten what I feel like I want from this. Is this relationship still serving me? And facing the hard fact that if I wanted to continue to grow and reach where I know I'm going, I'm sorry I'm going to have to lose you because I can't lose myself again. I've already done that and I found myself and I refuse to go backwards, so that goes for romantic relationships, I've also had to walk away from some friendships and even business relationships. I finally feel like I'm free. I have the people around me to really support me in a way that I haven't been supported before. And, it's also about me leaving behind my younger self, old ways of thinking and old habits and just coming into this new woman too, because I can't operate how I use too either.
TERRANCE: "Good Company" is one that stands out for its upbeat energy. How did that song come about?
DONDRIA: Josh and I were kind of talking and I like to have fun. I like to turn-up with my girls. I love to dance and twerk especially when music is playing. I really like to enjoy myself, but I've never really shown that in the past to my audience. They may get a little glimpse every now and then, but I've never had a record to express that before and I just wanted to be able to have some fun. Why do I gotta listen to everybody else's songs to turn-up? I wanted at least to have one and Josh was very instrumental on that because I was a little uncomfortable, but he was like, this is you and these lyrics are you and you are these lyrics, so like, I know it's something new that you haven't done before but it's not inauthentic, it's very authentic to who you are. So, that helped me to embrace it and have more fun with my music because that's who I am. I love to have a good time.
TERRANCE: Talk about the visual concept behind the music video for "Him".
DONDRIA: Yes. I had a lot of fun shooting that. The concept behind it, I definitely wanted to show, I guess like a current day situation and what was lacking from it, but also show what I felt was what my dream guy was like. How would he show up for me, how would he show me love. I wanted him to be affectionate and just tall, dark and handsome. We kind of go back and forth between reality and my dream world and it's all set on this TV show we call like a soap opera that I see on the screen with myself as the lady and he's the dream guy.
TERRANCE: What has it been like navigating your newly formed company, Awe Me Entertainment?
DONDRIA: It's like a bittersweet thing. I definitely am empowered and I am happy to have the freedom to do what I want to do to put myself out in the world in the way I know what's best for me. It's challenging because I come from a culture of just being an artist and showing up and singing the song and wearing this and you got this photoshoot. It's challenging but I'm up for the challenge because it's kind of like the cost of being your own boss and so I'll take it. I'm learning and it's been a great journey.
TERRANCE: There's been talk that you're launching a health and wellness podcast. What can you share with us about that?
DONDRIA: So, with this podcast that's called Detox with Dondria, I wanted to create a space and use my platform to reach the people that listen to me, specifically women, but anybody can listen to it and I want us to just pay more attention to things like the expectations, the habits and the thought processes that we have or around that don't serve us. Detox yourself so that we can add more things that are in alignment with who we are and who we want to be. That's very important to me and I have suffered from depression and anxiety in the past and still sometimes anxiety can creep in and so I wanted to use this podcast to tell my story, because I'm on a journey. I haven't arrived anywhere. I also want to grow with my audience too.
TERRANCE: You're also writing a poetry book?
DONDRIA: Yes. So, this poetry book is called In the Dark. These are poems that I had written actually in the midst of my depression. It was one of the ways that I was coping with it because I didn't have anybody or I thought I didn't have anybody. I was kind of too ashamed to share with people how I was really feeling, so everybody thought that everything was great and butterflies and rainbows, but inside I was really going through it. So, this poetry was my outlet and some of the poems are a little dark and they reflect some of the pain I was in, but some of them are light and kind of my hope to where I would one day want to be. The things that I desire in my life that I hadn't had in that moment. This is a pretty special project and I call it In the Dark, because I wrote these poems in the dark, literally. But the cover is a beautiful landscape which is in connection to the cover of my EP. It's the same sky, the same grass, there are butterflies. Because I feel like sometimes, especially people that are functioning in depression, the outside looks real nice and you probably could never tell they were suffering from depression and that's how it was for me. Like, I did not tell anyone what I was really going through. Maybe one or two people. So yeah, this is really special to me and I hope that it can touch and help people relate to that space and know that they can come out of it too because I've been able to.
TERRANCE: Are there any upcoming shows or events you can tell us about?
DONDRIA: Right now I'm just working to promote. I have a play that I'm in on stage that's coming out in May, on Mother's Day. I'm kind of going with the flow. So far things have been flowing in. I talked to someone earlier about putting the intention and desire out there and then allowing it to flow back to you, so I'm just in a space of flowing and floating like a butterfly, like, we're just going with it.
TERRANCE: Overall, what do you hope listeners take away from the Perspective experience?
DONDRIA: Honestly, me and Josh's goal from the beginning of this project was to make something that people could feel. I wanted people to be able to relate to these emotions and be inspired to do something either scary or possibly end a relationship or connection with someone or something, but also be brave enough to fight for who they love or what they love like their dream. I just want them to have something they can feel and are inspired and motivated by. That's my only goal, everything else is icing on the cake.
TERRANCE: Any final words you would like to share with your fans, followers and readers?
DONDRIA: I think I just have the attitude of gratitude. It's been quite a journey and my last EP, I dropped in 2017 and one thing about my day one fans, they support and so I'm just really grateful for them and I'm also grateful for the new people that may not have known that I've been out working since I'm independent now in comparison to when I was on a major label and they saw me everywhere, so I'm just grateful to see even those people coming back, like, oh my God I've been waiting, you know? So yeah, I'm just excited and there's so much more to come in 2023.