Dawn Robinson Biography
She's done precisely that, with the new disc, Dawn, showcasing the sensual and dynamic range of one of pop's most recognizable voices. The 12-song album is as mercurial as it is compelling, destined to please all of her loyal fans, and certain to lure new ones with its mesmerizing mix of funk, soul, rock, and hypnotic R&B. "This album has many moods. It captures the many facets of my personality," says Dawn. It also provides a platform for the singer to display her blossoming writing talents, something she has not been able to do as much on past projects. "En Vogue was a little more about choosing the right material. And Lucy Pearl was a little more about an impromptu style of recording," says Dawn. "I was really able to take a more thoughtful approach as to the kinds of songs I wanted to hear on this one."
The tantalizing disc simmers in almost diverging directions, heartbreakingly fragile one minute, ala the seething "Just Get Up," and dangerously percolating the next, with the provocative retort of "You Will Never." It's the classic 'answer' song, with Dawn expressing her 'emergence' from some of the frustrating machinations that a superstar of her magnitude often experiences. "But it's all good now. It always feels better when you get that stuff out. All I’m really saying is that I'm here - and I've never been better."
She mines slightly more foreign territory on the aforementioned "Just Get Up," writing she says – "about other people's plights so that the album wasn’t just me, me, me." But there's no escaping Dawn's signature vocal and spine-tingling harmonizing. "I grew up loving all kinds of music, Crosby Stills and Nash, Janis Joplin, The Bee Gees. On that one, we went through a bunch of different records trying to figure out what kind of feel we wanted. It contains a couple of stories about people that I think everyone can identify with." Recorded in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles, the album includes production credits from Pajam (*NSYNC, Sisqo), Travon Potts (Christina Aguilera, Monica), Ivan Barios and Carvin Haggins (Jill Scott, Musiq) and Kenni Ski (Christion), all of whom have helped to redefine the sound of today's music. "It was great working with them," says Dawn. "On this album, I didn't want to be confined to one approach. I just wanted to record songs I was excited about."
She shared in the writing and producing process, challenging herself to come up with material that reflected her amazing journey so far. "I knew what I didn't want the album to sound like. Some manufactured attempt. I liked the atmosphere on these sessions. This record was very organic. I wanted songs that felt good to me." Songs possessing Dawn's familiar confidence, like the scalding "Fed Up," where she even quotes R. Kelly: 'When a woman's fed up, there's nothing a man can do about it.'
And she should know. Dawn's career reads like a primer on how to become an R&B legend. Born in Connecticut and raised in Oakland, California, her stunning audition for En Vogue in the late '80s positioned her as the foursome's most awesome presence. Their unforgettable debut album, Born To Sing, released in 1990, unleashed three consecutive R&B hits, setting the stage for their historic follow-up effort, Funky Divas, which achieved triple platinum status, earned five GRAMMY® nominations and garnered them Soul Train's prestigious Entertainers Of The Year Award in 1992. The now-classic single "Free Your Mind" went on to win three MTV awards, establishing the group as a genre-changing force in pop music. After another best selling EP, as well as a myriad of show-stopping TV performances and award winning music clips, Dawn eventually left En Vogue to pursue other interests.
The eclectic Lucy Pearl afforded her the opportunity to branch out musically, and she jumped at the chance. The superstar trio consisted of Ali Shaeed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest) and Raphael Saadiq (previously in Tony Tone Toni). Their acclaimed, self-titled debut album hit gold, but Dawn's desire to do a solo album took precedence. She signed with Q Records last year and immediately started looking for collaborators. "In many ways this is the record I was always supposed to make," she says. "The one where I feel I've left no creative stone unturned. The opportunity with Q gave me a chance to be more creative all the way around."
Dawn lights up when she talks about all the possibilities that the new record company can bring to a street-savvy superstar like her. "I've always admired artists who could go from groups to their solo career. This album and this record company are helping me find the kind of independence that I could never quite attain in the past. I have all these different influences in my background, all these things I want to say. I don’t ever want to pigeonholed." She pauses for a second, as if she’s finally touched upon the real reason she's fired up about her new musical identity. "It's liberating. I want a mixed bag of music to offer my fans. The fun will be watching their reaction."