Whitney Duncan knows how to survive -- and thrive. Late last year, she placed ninth among the competitors before facing elimination on day 27 of the CBS series 'Survivor: South Pacific.' She's also endured a highly-publicized divorce and is skillfully navigating the ups and down of the fluctuating music business. In that regard, Whitney has taken a step that many musicians, filmmakers and other creative types are finding to be invaluable, especially when you're an unsigned singer not affiliated with a record label, as so many are these days.

To fund the release of her latest CD, 'Where the Back Roads Run,' Whitney has begun a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter, which calls itself "the world's largest [online] platform for creative projects." Thus far, tens of thousands of people have pledged millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative endeavors. It's a step the singer took at the suggestion of a fan, since Whitney has found herself without a record label deal at the moment.

"First of all I wanna say, I do not NEED your money," Whitney explains on her Kickstarter page. "Only give if you want the rewards and would like to hear a full length CD instead of an EP. I'm making an EP whether or not the full project gets funded."

And just because she is raising funds in this unique -- and increasingly popular -- way, Whitney doesn't want fans to get the wrong idea.

"I am not broke, nor desperate ... that is not what this site is about," she insists. "I just think it's a great idea to involve the fans and give them some ownership in my music and career, since I wouldn't have either without them."

With pledge suggestions ranging from $10 to $500, fans contributing will receive special gifts and privileges at different levels. A $10 pledge nets a video-gram from the singer, while the $500 pledge allow those who donate to hang out with Whitney for karaoke and drinks one night in Nashville.

"My fans have always been the best, so I have no doubt that y'all will make this a successful project!" Whitney adds. "This is so fun for me, because I can make the record I want to make! I'm recording this album with singer/songwriter Jonathan Singleton, and it's going to be awesome."

Whitney's last album, 'Right Road Now' was released two years ago by Warner Music Nashville and was recorded four years ago. "Needless to say, I AM READY TO MAKE SOME MUSIC!" she enthuses.

Yet, in spite of her enthusiasm, Whitney has had to defend her choice to use Kickstarter. She took to her Twitter page Tuesday morning (Feb. 28) after seeing an article titled 'Wanna Sing Karaoke With Whitney Duncan? It'll Cost You,' posted on the website of radio station WIRK in South Florida.

The article begins: "This is what happens when your music career stalls ... and hardly anyone cares that you sold your soul on 'Survivor.' Whitney Duncan is now begging her fans to pony up cash so she can finish her next album." Referring to her explanation of the Kickstarter campaign as a "shameless plea," the article concludes that as of Feb. 27, "38 people had donated a total of $2,808. That averages out to $73.89 per donation. I'm embarrassed FOR her."

Whitney has until March 23 to raise the $5,000 to fund the recording. If a Kickstarter project doesn't meet its fundraising goal by the proposed deadline, no money ever changes hands.

Watch Whitney's 'When I Said I Would' Video