Milly 'Militza' Barros is a self-starter who never quits.

Those self-ascribed traits -- and, of course, being "very lucky" at times -- are succinctly summed up by the title tune of her first album.

'Mi Camino,' one of 10 songs Barros wrote for the recording, represents the inner and outer paths she's taken during a journey from rebellious teenager to "sudden" sensation in Latin pop music.

"It's about my destiny," Barros, 30, who lives in Discovery Bay, said of 'Mi Camino,' the first song she wrote at age 16. "What I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to sing, dance and fly like an eagle."

'Mi Camino,' which took Barros -- she records and performs as Militza -- eight years to complete, was released on Aug. 28, after being delayed twice by Brea-based FAMA Discos.

"I'm excited," a very upbeat Barros said. "I'm ecstatic. It's been a long time coming. It's a big deal. It's pretty special. It's my baby."

Her determination never was in doubt.

"Ask anybody who knows me," she said. "Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a rock star."

Stockton's Jimmy Moreno, a guitar player who helped Barros find her voice and produce her album, definitely noticed that spirit.

"She has an amazing amount of drive," said Moreno. "Some (musicians) say they wanna do it. She actually goes out to do it. It's very refreshing."

The album -- 11 of its 12 songs are sung in Spanish -- was produced and mastered in Stockton by Michael Klooster, who now lives in Pasadena, and Saul Bello. With plenty of input from Barros.

"I finally got to make a professional recording," she said. "It was an amazing experience. They're all amazingly talented. They let me take charge of it 100 percent. I was very lucky. I had a full green light. People tell me I was super-lucky."

Now, she's trying to make sure lots of people hear 'Mi Camino.'

"It's been all over the place," said Barros, who's busily doing interviews with radio deejays, TV hosts and other media outlets.

Some songs ('Mi Corazon') and videos already have gained Internet exposure.

"Other artists wanna know what I've done differently vs. what they're doing. I'm not sure what I've done differently. I've just worked hard for a long time," Barros said.

A vital aspect of that ethic involved singing with Gitanos, a Stockton rock en Español group whose members -- including Moreno -- support her on 'Mi Camino.'

In addition to Moreno, there's Ray Tuitavuki (bass), Justin Anderson (drums), Josei Hodges (guitar), Bill Stevens (guitar), and Sandra Cruces (vocals).

"Jimmy's one of the main reasons the CD was made," said Barros, a single mother of two who works in Concord.

"He's been beyond great. I can't even explain it in words. They kind of took it over as their baby. They made me feel special."

Klooster, a Franklin High School graduate who's currently touring as the keyboard player with San Jose's Smash Mouth, fondly remembered recording Militza's CD at his Mad Lab studio in central Stockton.

"I had a good time," Klooster, 39, said from Pasadena. "It was really cool. It was a weird blend. We were all coming from a different place -- like a coalition -- to get a record. She did a good job. I had a blast."

That appropriately defines most of Barros' musical experiences.

Born in Antioch, she's "always been into music," Barros said. She sang in school choirs and began writing songs at 15.

"I tend to write always about life," Barros said. "I'm not really into love songs. I always danced and sang every chance I got. Believe it or not, I was lazy, but I was known to say, 'I'm gonna be a singer' -- a rock star -- in elementary school. I always knew I'd get there eventually."

That's because "my life has been a little twisted," she said. While attending Liberty Union High School in Brentwood, she was transferred to La Paloma High (a continuation campus) at 16.

"You don't get sent there for being a good kid," she said. "After that, I realized I actually wanted to be successful."

Barros became a teenage entrepreneur, working in real estate and, at 17, selling airline tickets to business travelers. She went on to study real estate at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

She started writing "most" of the songs on her album while living in Modesto for six years. That's when Barros connected with Moreno and Gitanos.

"Rock en Español is a little different, but it's the same genre," she said. "So they adapted to me."

She's returned the gesture.

"I never lived there, but I'm there almost every day," Barros said. "I've adopted Stockton as my second home."

Her mom, Iris Río Piedras, and father, Raphael Santurce, are from Puerto Rico. They met in the Bay Area, where other family members had settled.

While working on her "rock-and-roll" goal, she's also been handling "real-estate loss mitigation" for the Bank of America in Concord, supporting Ricky, 11, and Rajah, 15. Her three sisters work in the medical field.

On her album, Barros "tried to target a good thing," she said. "Rock-pop. But it has a little of everything on it. Soft music. Salsa."

That would be 'Sexy,' the final tune that Barros sings in English.

"She has a lot of passion," said Moreno, 48, who attended Stagg and Lincoln high schools and San Joaquín Delta College. "Something kinda strikes you. She has several different voicings -- Gwen Stefani, Madonna -- and different characteristics that kinda come alive on stage. She has a dramatic flair and gets into the character of the song. She's entertaining."

Also totally determined.

"I guess I refuse to quit," Barros said. "Sometimes I wished I would just quit. But I just won't. There's been too much work and sacrifice."