Dawn Richard, also known as Dawn, is paving a way for herself as an indie artist. The former Danity Kane member just released her new solo album “BlackHeart” and is set to release the third installment of her album trilogy “RedemptionHeart” in early 2016.
“My records come from experience. It’s my way of telling a story,” Richard said. “I never want to write a song to where it seems like it’s only just a song. It has to paint a picture.”
The New Orleans native got her big break after she auditioned for Sean “P.Diddy” Comb’s “Making the Band 3” in 2004, which landed her a spot in his girl group, Danity Kane, from 2005 to 2009. Richard joined Diddy-Dirty Money with her boss P. Diddy and Kalenna Harper, but they later disbanded in 2011. In 2013, the group came back together with 3 of the 5 original members to produce “DK3”.
“I love to write analogies that are relatable to all people. It’s definitely hard to write because I’m not the average writer. I like to write the story first it makes everything live in color,” she said.
Dawn departed from Bad Boy Records in 2011 to launch her solo career. She released four solo projects including “A Tell Tale Heart,” and “Whiteout EP.” Her musical sound falls under electronic dance music, but carries a bit of R&B sound. She has had a mix review from music consumers about her music genre from the start of her solo career. Some fans have taken her growth in music diversity as a piece of not being genuine.
“Several artists have evolved over time and have different sounds from when they first began. Pink had an R&B sound before she switched over to music she does now. Christina Aguilera changed from her ‘Genie in a Bottle’ days when she decided to do ‘Strip’. So why can’t I be accepted for my sound like they were?” she said.
From her experience with two groups, Dawn has had two consecutive platinum albums with Danity Kane, a platinum album “Last Train to Paris” with Diddy-Dirty Money, a gold single “Hello Good Morning,” and the platinum “Coming Home” single with Diddy-Dirty Money. But, she recognizes that her past music really didn’t fit who she really was.
“The thing people don’t know is that I’ve always been this Black girl who love alternative music,” she explained. “I’ve always been a fan of Bjork, Greenday and The Cranberries. I don’t categorize my music. I just make music that takes all the elements I grew up in,” she said.
Songs on “BlackHeart” like “Titans,” “Swim Free” and “James Dean” hold interesting lyrics and an eclectic sound. The same goes for her music videos. Richard is an avid user of visual symbolism in the majority of her videos by using digital artwork and manipulation.
“I see things in the real,” she said in regards to her music video concepts. “People have to think when they watch my videos and depict what it is. In my video ‘James Dean,’ I wanted people to see the physical transform, because that’s what it’s about seeing yourself transform into something grand.”
As an independent artist, Dawn promotes, finances, books and writes her own music a challenge she has had to learn how to do.
“I’ve experienced a lot as a Black businesswoman. It is eye opening to see how people talk to me and treat me crazy as an entrepreneur,” she said. “But those things don’t discourage me, it actually makes me even better.”
Her career changes definitely showed her the type of musician and businesswoman she aspires to be. She hopes that one day her love enthusiasm for music will influence the young generation to be comfortable with who they are.
“I hope I can be that example for young Black kids who are different and don’t have an example to look up to. If I was young, I would like to say that I liked [Dawn] as an artist. That’s the kind of example I want to be,” she said.