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Dawn Richard Talks Mixtape, Dirty Money Tour & Danity Kane

Darryl Calmese Jr.

Dawn Richard has only been in the music industry for a little over five years but she is already a survivor. The world got to know her on ‘Making the Band 3,’ however, she wasn’t just another reality television star craving the spotlight. As Richard puts it, “I wasn’t on a reality television trying to be an artist. I was an artist on a reality television show.”

Audiences fell in love with her soulful voice and story; the New Orleans native survived the horror of Hurricane Katrina. Dawn had already been to the lowest point so conquering the music industry was the least of her fears. As we all know, Danity Kane dramatically disbanded, but she found a new home in Dirty Money with Kalenna Harper and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Their single ‘Coming Home’ charted at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, Dirty Money just announced their 20-city Coming Home tour, which kicks off April 13 in Minneapolis, Minn. Dawn also released her critically acclaimed mixtape, ‘The Prelude to a Tell Tale Heart,’ which is available for a free download at DawnRichardBlog.com.

In her interview with The BoomBox, Dawn talks the upcoming tour, the legendary Twitter marriage proposal, clears up recent comments that got a former Danity Kane member heated, and gives us the exclusive details on her new video for ‘Broken Record.’

The BoomBox: Your mixtape ‘The Prelude to a Tell Tale Heart’ received great reviews. You recently shot the video for your new song ‘Broken Record.’ Give us some details on what we can expect.

Dawn Richard: It’s extremely raw and I’m really proud of it. I’m dancing, which is something I’ve been doing longer than I’ve been singing. My mother had a dancing school and I started dancing when I was two. The video is in two perspectives. I’m singing both of the perspectives, but the second verse is in the male perspective. It gives the males an opportunity to feel like it’s not just a male bashing record. You’ll see in the video, I work with Luan, who is an amazing choreographer; she started with Rihanna when she did ‘Pon de Replay.’ I think people will be really proud of the outcome. Look out for the video at the end of March.

The Coming Home tour was just announced. How excited are you to go back on the road?
It’s been almost four years since I’ve been on a huge stage, since Danity Kane did the Christina Aguilera tour. I’m overly excited because this is a different world for me. Danity Kane toured stadiums but, because we were the opener, it was a smaller crowd. We were still trying to touch people who were a little far away. This tour, we are more intimate and of course we are with a huge entity like Diddy. I love music and the passion of what we bring. I want to be up close, I want them to feel the words that we are saying. This is just a perfect tour to do that.

You’re also going to be on ‘American Idol’ March 10th?

Yes! I am so excited because we are going to have the amazing Skylar Grey with us who wrote the record ‘Coming Home.’ She’s just extraordinary and knows how to make an amazing hook. It’s my second time around on ‘American Idol.’ Plus, I’m excited to see J. Lo do her thing in person. I’m a huge fan of Steven Tyler; I’m a rock girl, and I grew up on rock. Aerosmith is one of my favorite bands still to this day.

Why do you think, out of all the girls in Danity Kane, that Diddy chose to continue working with you?

I’m going to carefully answer this because I did so before and it was taken out of context. I said that I had a passion for it and a love for it that he saw. People took it to say that I said that the other girls didn’t.

Yes, Aubrey O’Day got upset about that comment.

I want to make it clear because that wasn’t what I was saying. I love those girls. I said in a previous interview that I’m not the last girl standing. Those girls are probably the last girls standing in the situation that they have. We were all talented; we loved what we did, and our craft. I think the difference was Diddy has a way of seeing and liking a specific sound. I don’t think he was saying, “She’s better than the rest of the girls.” I think he just gravitated to a different sound. You have to look at his track record from Faith [Evans] to Mary [J. Blige] to Biggie, everybody had a distinct sound. Not a better sound than someone else, just a different sound. There is a passion and soulfulness that he always gravitates toward.

At the time, I did not know this. I thought he hated me when I was going through the ‘Making the Band’ motions. Afterward, when I saw the show, I realized he really did like me. He loved us all, but I think there was something in my story and the passion that I sung from — I sung like there was no tomorrow. Not to say the other girls didn’t, but I can’t tell you their story. All I can tell you is mine. I just sung from a place that I didn’t want to go back to where I was. I think he saw that and that’s what brought him and I together. Also, seeing Kalenna and I together, we are parts of him. I think he sees himself in both of us. From the drive to the [persistence], to the need to want to learn your craft and make it better. Not that I’m better than the rest of the girls or that I’m something special, they are all special. I think that’s just something he gravitated toward.

Thank you for clearing that up. I’m sure you heard Aubrey responded.

I didn’t see it but I heard it through the grapevine. I was a little hurt because I had been going out of my way to try to make it clear that I am very proud of them. I support them completely. It’s been five years, I think we all just need to move on and support each other. Now, it’s just getting ridiculous. I don’t want to hurt a name that we worked so hard to make great. I just want to make it clear; I never said that I was better than them. I never said I loved it more than them. I think they all loved it. There was a just a distinct story and a situation in me that Diddy chose to pick. To this day, he has never bad mouthed them. I couldn’t be in Dirty Money without Danity Kane and I know that.

I know you and Que broke up. But, in retrospect, how do you feel about his Twitter proposal?

I think people took it to a different place than what it really was. I didn’t even know about it. When he said he did it, he said it was just for fun. The next day it was on every media outlet. I was like, “What’s going on?” People took that out of context. Twitter is a great thing but, be careful, it’s not as literal as people want to take it. It’s just a fun tool to talk to your fans. Some people take it to heart. They save it and it becomes something way more than what it’s really supposed to be. He wasn’t blatantly saying, “Dawn, I’m going to purpose to you right now on Twitter-accept my offer.” It was “I love you,” that’s what it meant to him. People took it at as, “This man just proposed to her.”

You’ve already had big highs and big lows in your career. Right now you are on a high with Dirty Money and your mixtape. But, when things are low — album sales aren’t where they should be and working relationships crumble — does it ever make you want to leave the entertainment industry?

I don’t find myself in the industry. I’m in my own cocoon of music. I’ll never leave this thing that I’m dating and I’m married to called music. I feel like the music industry is the chapel that we get married in. I can get married in any chapel, but as long as I have my husband with me, I’m good. That’s where I am with music. The industry is just a house around you, if it crumbles, if you still have the love of your life with you, it doesn’t really matter. For me, I’ve been at the lowest point, but I’ve always had music. It’s always given me hope to keep going and it’s gotten me here.

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