As big of a sensation MTV's Making the Band was throughout the last decade, none of the bands -- you know, the point of the entire show -- actually lasted very long in the mainstream. O-Town is over, Da Band were together for two years, Day 26's last album came out in 2009, and Danity Kane ignominiously split after a physical altercation in the studio. That said, who'd have thought Dawn Richard, a member of Danity Kane, would be the most talented artist to emerge from the Making the Band series with a successful solo career? The singer turns 32 years old today (Aug. 5).

Richard's background is filled with musical heritage. Her father was a percussionist for the soul band Chocolate Milk, and her hometown of Louisiana is known for its celebratory use of music. After being released from a fruitless contract with Atlanta label Yeah! Brother Records, Richard successfully auditioned for a spot on Diddy's Making the Band 3. 

Danity Kane was a success, earning a few Billboard hits (who can forget "Damaged"?) and a devoted fan base in their short time together. Drama eventually corroded the group, and by 2009, Richard was a solo artist. While she did have the advantage of being the lone Danity Kane member to remain on Bad Boy Records, Richard couldn't shine under Diddy's shadow. Diddy got most of the attention for Diddy - Dirty Money, a trio featuring the CEO, Richard and Kalenna Harper.

So the singer went from major to indie, and conversely, her music went from accessible pop to ambitious epics. Starting with Armor On, Richard became a distinctive persona as she transformed her music into these romantic, fantasy epics. It's roughly the R&B-tinged, medieval equivalent of Deltron 3030's space escapades. It's been exciting to watch, and her most recent album, Blackheart, is one of the year's best.

Watch Dawn Richard's "Titans x James Dean" Video

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