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DAWN RICHARD: Let's Stay Together

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Drama has always plagued the success of many girl groups. Let’s make brief history notes: The Supremes. En Vogue. Destiny’s Child. Unfortunately, Danity Kane, Diddy’s pop-soul quintet, appears to be following in the footsteps of those before them. Last night the season finale of “Making the Band 4” left many viewers baffled about the future of DK after members Aubrey O’Day and D. Woods were apparently kicked to the curb. Dawn Richard spoke exclusively with ESSENCE.com to address the group’s fate and rumors of her going solo.

ESSENCE.COM: Last night’s finale of “Making The Band 4” was sort of subdued drama with a pretty ambiguous ending. Diddy has left the ladies of Danity Kane to decide what the group’s future will be. What is your hope for the group?
DAWN RICHARD:
We talked about it and there’s a fear we have of losing our fan base. But at the end of the day, Diddy made his choice to let us decide and we would like to continue with the name and the group.  This is our lives and you can’t just say no to your dreams.  I love working with the group. However, it’s so hard to say what will happen. I would prefer that the original group members remain. It’s hard enough for fans to follow as is.

ESSENCE.COM: Diddy is a beast when it comes to whipping his groups into shape and his truth hurts. He already let Aubrey go and then D. Woods was a no-show last night. Have you spoken or plan to speak to any of the ladies?
RICHARD:
No, I haven’t. Honestly, we really don’t talk that much, but I wish them the best of luck. I showed up, and as one person, I can only do so much. If they want to get in touch with me, they will because I totally support them and always will. All of this stuff affects us because these are our lives. Diddy tells us to try to save our group and some of us don’t show up? We’re making a serious statement to him about the future of this group by doing so.

ESSENCE.COM: There’s been much hearsay about Diddy’s intentions of making you the lead of Danity Kane as well as offering you a solo record deal. Is that true?
RICHARD:
It’s so interesting how the media chooses to interpret or report things. I have never said that I was pursuing a solo deal. I told someone that I have waited so long for my dream, and singing is my dream and has been for so long. I have done nothing on the side as far as solo projects; I’m not sidestepping. I have totally been supportive of the group—that’s my priority. We had shows where Aubrey didn’t show up and we had her back and no one wrote about it or said anything. Some of the other girls have pursued their interests and I have sat back and supported them in their individual pursuits. It truly hurts my feelings because I work so hard and I’ve been so honest from the beginning. I can’t control it if someone says, `I respect your artistry and I’d like to work with you.’ What’s wrong with that?  Instead of getting support there is nothing but negativity. Again, my priority has always been Danity Kane. I’ve never missed a show or meeting so it’s just interesting how people perceive things. I can only put it in God’s hands.

ESSENCE.COM: But has Diddy ever approached you personally about a deal?
RICHARD:
Everyone should ask Puff if that’s what he has in line for me. If he does, then I’m honored and I will work hard as I’ve always done. What I know for certain is that he would never break up Danity Kane. I’ve always been on that same train, too. At the end of the day, I’m going to rock with the first priority, which is Danity Kane. Who knows what can happen, because Puff changes his mind every five seconds. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to be the same person I was in the beginning. What’s honest and true is that I respect people. I respect and love the group. I wish it could still be five of us. I didn’t make Aubrey leave. I didn’t make D. Woods not show up. People choose their paths and you do what’s best for your situation. This is your job and you do the best you can do. All we’re trying to do is survive.

ESSENCE.COM: Because you’ve written songs for the group and named the group, do you think the other ladies might be envious of you?
RICHARD:
I will never say anyone is jealous of me, because that’s not the type of person I am. I just never see it like that. You work hard, people respect you or you don’t. Growing up in my household, nothing was ever easy, especially as an African-American woman. You can be perceived as a b----. When I work so hard, some people say all these mean things when you’re trying to be righteous and it's so hurtful. I’m human, so in the beginning of my career when I read those things, they were the worst and meanest things. I couldn’t conceive why my own people wouldn’t be more positive and support me, so I couldn’t help but be hurt and think, Why don’t you have my back? I’m doing something positive? I’m not a hater. You don’t even have to like me.  I’m going to respect everyone. Now I don’t let the negative talk affect me; I just do me, because no one is perfect and you can’t live for everyone else.

ESSENCE.COM: Dawn, you’re extremely positive and that is to be respected. Do you have any personal issues with the group?
RICHARD:
I stated this once before when Diddy asked what the problems were. The reality is that some days we get along and other days we don’t, but it has never made me feel differently about the girls or the group. I always wanted to rock with those four girls. I’m about business and how do we keep the fans happy and how do we make our business work better. I’m pro-Danity Kane.

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