"After all the promo and hard work in 2009, towards the end of 2009, this song caught on and it was like a wildfire effect, and all these great things started happening because of this one record," Fiona told MTV News.
Even before the success of "It Kills Me," the 26-year-old's album, The Bridge, caught the attention of industry heavyweights. She said she met with Jay-Z and his friend Tata in New York to play them some music just before she completed the project, and now she's managed by Jay-Z Roc Nation and signed to Steve Rifkind's SRC label.
"They listened to the music and they were like, 'Yo, this is great,' " Fiona said of the meeting. "Tata was like, 'We'd be honored to represent this.' I was like, 'You'd be honored?!' "
Before a Roc Nation co-sign, however, the Toronto native said that it was difficult breaking into the music biz at home and in the States. "For the type of music I do, I knew I wanted it to be an international thing, so I wanted to not limit myself to one territory or country, and I wanted to just really go for the height of what I could do.
"A lot of people doubted me, they doubted my ability, they doubted my credibility, they doubted who I was," she added. "It was important for me to really go through that journey and figure out that it's not about conforming to somebody else, society or somebody else's culture. It's about bringing light to your own."
It's probably not coincidental that Fiona came up with another Toronto artist who broke through and put his city on the map last year. She and Drake were a part of the same scene that was trying to start a movement and showcase Toronto's talent. And now she's proud to see how far Drake has come.
"It was an amazing feeling to then travel and to leave Toronto and then meet back up and to see where we are at, at the peak of our career," Fiona said. "We're just so supportive and happy for one another. It feels greater that it started out so small, at an infantile stage in Toronto, and now we're both doing the best that we've ever done."
It's Hip-Hop and R&B Week at MTV News, and we're saluting some of the biggest names who have earned big-dawg status with their steadfast pursuit of excellence. We're also bringing you some of the acts on the verge of a mainstream breakthrough, so stay locked with us all week!