She’s ready for war; she’s ready for battle; she’s ready to fight: the R&B singer Dawn Richard proclaims her battle with the music industry in her 2013 release—Goldenheart. Ready for downloads and hitting stores on January 15th, 2013, Goldenheart is Richard’s debut full-length album, reaching the No. 1 spot on I-Tunes R&B Chart, No. 137 on the Billboard Top 200, selling 3,000 copies. The former member both of Diddy Dirty Money and girl group Danity Kane is covering new ground as an independent act that is capable of creating top quality productions, top level music videos and a major album release.

Dawn Richard, a New Orleans native, started her career in the music industry as a contestant on MTV’s reality television show Making the Band, when Puff Daddy selected her from her audition at the Apollo Theater. She eventually beat 20 contestants to become one of the five girls who would make up the international pop music group—Danity Kane. Richard and the other five girls of Danity Kane eventually scored two platinum No.1 albums and two top ten singles. After a successful two and a half year run, Danity Kane came to an end. Richard continued her music career with Diddy Dirty Money, a trio comprised of Bad Boy Records Chairman Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records songwriter Kelena, releasing the critically acclaimed R&B album, Last Train to Paris.

Dawn Richard co-wrote and co-produced all 16 tracks of Goldenheart. Conceptually, the album contains Richard’s life and experiences in the music industry, woven into progressive R&B sounds with allusions to medieval imagry and fantasy. It is a powerful record with songs about hope, love, loss, and war. Her lyrics are poetic and intelligently penned, showing her abilities as a songwriter.

Album highs include the album intro In the Hearts Tonight, the club jam Northern Lights, Riot, Warfaire and Return of a Queen. Richard makes a powerful claim of inner-strength on the song In the Hearts Tonight, she sings, “So get ready for war, Yea get ready for war, Put your battle suit on, You’s a champion, We can never be touched, Ain’t no stoppin us.” The album is littered with references to Richard’s struggle in the music industry, like in the song Warfaire, “I fight a battle everyday, Against discouragement and fear, Some foe stands always in my way, The path is never clear, I get ahead by fighting hard, The fighting keeps my spirit strong.” The undertone of struggle and determination throughout the record is inspiring, making you feel like you can accomplish anything. In songs like Goliath and 300, she makes Biblical and Medieval references that continue her theme and story about struggle, inner-strength and triumph.

Sonically, Goldenheart can be classified as progressive R&B–traditional elements of blues with dreamy electronic sounds and modern synthesizers. It has an atmospheric and experimental sound, much like Richard’s muse and main inspiration—Bjork. The ambient and house elements are reminiscent of 80’s funk and rock, much like Phil Collins and Prince. Mostly mid-tempo tracks, some a full ballads and some full dance tracks, trip-hop elements and beats are eclectically mixed with jazzy and folk instrumentals.

Employing religious imagery, heroic themes, fantasy, epic battles, tales of salvation, world domination and violence, Richard created one of the most conceptually unique albums of recent times, many critics hailing it as one of the best albums of 2013. Richard is pushing the envelop in multiple ways, musically, performance-wise, business wise: creating national indie tours in various clubs and small venues.

Goldenheart is only the first installment of a planned trilogy of albums, the other two being Blackheart and REDemptionheart. Goldenheart was described by Richard as the story of a naïve warrior who came to dominate, win wars and slay dragons. Coming next in the triology is Blackheart, which she claims is darker. It’s the story of a fallen warrior who lost many battles and is now feeling the blood on her hands. The mixed autobiographic and graphic themes propel her intriguing story.

Red Deer International is readily anticipating Blackheart and looking forward to a slew of progressive sounds, edgy fashion and spectacular dance routines.

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