Singer, songwriter, and producer Dawn Richard, also known as D∆WN, has evolved from membership in Danity Kane and Diddy-Dirty Money to become one of the more progressive forces in left-field pop, R&B, and electronic music. Since working closely with the instigator of those two groups, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Richard has released several independent and conceptual albums, from Goldenheart (2013) to New Breed (2019), which have prioritized artistic progression over commercial reception.
Dawn Angeliqué Richard was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Born into a creative family, she's the daughter of Chocolate Milk's Frank Richard and spent much of her upbringing in her mother's dance school. Before she achieved mainstream visibility, she recorded as Dawn Angeliqué, debuting in 2005 with Been a While, an independently issued set of contemporary R&B made while she was attending the University of New Orleans and working as an NBA cheerleader. Around the same time, Richard made her first appearance on Making the Band 3. The third edition of the reality series produced Danity Kane, a group that released two Billboard 200-topping albums, Danity Kane and Welcome to the Dollhouse, and split in 2009. Along with Diddy and Kalenna Harper, Richard then became one-third of Diddy-Dirty Money, a short-lived group that released the album Last Train to Paris and the mixtape Love Love vs. Hate Love before ending in 2012.
Richard resumed a solo career that has developed throughout multiple splits and reunions of Danity Kane. Her self-released material has been progressive and conceptual, willfully oblivious to genre restrictions as it twists R&B, pop, and electronic music with emotive and frequently thrilling results. Amid mixtapes and EPs, as well as a third full-length with Danity Kane, she released a trilogy of solo albums from 2013 through 2016, beginning with Goldenheart. Part two of her "heart" trilogy, Blackheart, took her sound further out two years later and topped Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. Redemption completed the trilogy in 2016. She started a new chapter three years later with New Breed, a set tightly connected to her hometown. ~ Andy Kellman