WHY WE LOVE DAWN RICHARD
WRITTEN BY PHONZ L. THOMAS | PHOTO CREDIT HANIF ABDUR RAHIM | STYLED BY UGO MOZIE | HAIR BY ONYX
There are so many reasons why we have fallen madly in love with Diddy-Dirty Money member Dawn Richard. She first captivated our ears and hearts when she emerged on our television screens back in 2005. We loved watching every moment of the New Orleans native rise to stardom on MTV’s “Making the Band” while she was one of the finalists chosen into then Diddy’s all girl group, Danity Kane. “I needed my experience in Danity Kane to rise in Dirty Money. It’s like going from High School to an Ivy League college. I’m grateful for both groups,” recalled Dawn. From that point on many fans dubbed her ‘the voice’ because of her soulful depth and her vocal ability. We can still recall her last moments with Danity Kane and the infamous episode where we would learn the group’s demise. We all knew Dawn would keep her spirits high and move forward towards her own dreams and aspirations, learning from her experiences in the group. “It’s been four years. I know everyone has moved on. I wish them well and know they will be great at whatever they do. I think we should all move on. I don’t want to ever try and use Danity Kane to remain relevant. I remember the great things we did and I’ve chosen to work hard to keep music in my life.”
Since then a couple of singles leaked that featured Dawn’s vocals and we wondered if she was going to drop a solo project. But then headlines broke in 2009 that Diddy was forming another group with Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper called Diddy-Dirty Money. We wanted to know how Dawn’s rapport working with Diddy has been. How things differed in voicing her opinions while in the two groups, which she informed us, “I’ve always voiced my opinion. The difference between now and then is there were four other girls doing it as well. Puff and I get into it a lot. I have a strong opinion about what I want, how I want to be represented, and how I should be handled. But I think he likes that FIRE in me.” Diddy-Dirty Money’s album, Last Train to Paris was released this past December and has generated frenzy, with positive feedback from critics such as USA Today, The Boston Globe, AllMusic and The Village Voice. The album which includes numerous features including Justin Timberlake, Lil’ Wayne, The Notorious B.I.G., Rick Ross, Trey Songz, Drake, Grace Jones, and Swizz Beatz came in on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop Albums at #3 upon its debut. This is the first album where Dawn has written for the track “Loving You No More”. It went #1 on “106 & Park”. She also had the chance at producing. “To be able to say I’ve worked with the Amazing Grace Jones is just incredible,” explained an excited Dawn Richard. “I had a chance to vocal produce her on the record, “Yeah Yeah You Would,” she continued by informing us, “She and I are from the same planet!” One of Team Full Blast’s favorite music videos and singles off the album is “Ass On The Floor” which features Bronx native, Swizz Beatz. We had to ask her about working with Swizzy, in which she replied, “To be able to work with Swizz Beatz was such a great opportunity. I’ve always appreciated his work. I’m really proud of “Ass On The Floor.” It’s Kalenna and I’s record, so it’s our baby and means so much.”
In the last year, Dawn has become a rising fashion icon for her futuristic styles, most notably for her threads in Ghubar Magazine in the summer of 2010. In addition she and Kalenna’s styles in some of Dirty Money’s music videos have been the talk of the fashion community. “We have some of the greatest people working with us. Kalenna and I put our ideas together along with Deonte, David, and Marni – the best in the game. We pride ourselves in making sure the music translates through our fashion,” Dawn proclaimed. We’ve also been paying close attention to Dawn’s passion for fashion during her off time for a while, as we learned one of her favorite stores was right in our backyard, “No.6 Store in New York. They have the best vintage clothes.”
As we’ve watched Dawn throughout the years, we learned there are multifaceted levels of her creativity. While talking to her, we learned she loves to cook and paint, and considers herself an artist. She’s still very much involved in her series of comic books with illustrator Kim Ji Min and writer Natashia McGough called Danity Kane Comics as she informed us, “I’m creating a graphic novel this year, putting all my stories together. I’m excited about it!” But her passion for dance is one that has remained within her since childhood. “Any off time I get I head over to a studio and take a modern or tap class. I’ve danced my whole life. My mother is a dancer,” stated Dawn. We wanted to delve further into Dawn’s personality…
FULL BLAST Magazine: Do you ever find yourself getting irritated when people refer to you as Dawn “Richards?”
DAWN RICHARD: Ha Ha… Not really. I’m Creole, so my hometown family knows the pronunciation. But when you start going up North, the pronunciation isn’t familiar to people. So they add that ‘s’. I have faith people will get it right.
DAWN RICHARD: “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig Beethoven.
FULL BLAST Magazine: What’s up with the introduction on DawnRichardBlog.com of “Fly high and dream big?”
DAWN RICHARD: I don’t live like a have feet, I live like I have WINGS. It’s important to know that you can do all things through Christ. So fly high and dream big. If you’re gonna dream, dream big! Then fly towards it with persistence.
Fans still ponder if Dawn has plans to release a solo project. While one has not been confirmed, there has been rumors flying around saying a mixtape is on the horizon. “Yes, I wanna be gentle with my supporters. I’ve done so many looks and groups I want them to know ME, just Dawn Richard. So musically I want to just give a thank you to all those who have been there and supported. The entire story of the mixtape is love; the journey of a girl inside her own heart. I want an opportunity to sing and be creative, to share my own vision and to share the raw journey of a #telltaleheart,” Dawn confirmed. As our time with her came to a close, we asked her what advice she would give newcomers breaking into the music industry. She replied, “Know your craft, know yourself, know God; and love what you do with a passion that rivals the best of them. Be okay with rejection and look at it as a platform to grow.” This is why WE LOVE Dawn Richard.