In 2018, it shouldn’t be difficult to respect artists who get their start on reality shows. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson all owe their careers to American Idol; British pop combos Little Mix and One Direction came out of The X-Factor; and country megastar Miranda Lambert broke out on Nashville Star. In the R&B world, the reality launchpad of choice in the 2000s was Making the Band, and that show’s success story was Danity Kane. Under the tutelage of producer-entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs (maybe you’ve heard of him?), Danity Kane saw both of their first two albums go platinum and a pair of singles (“Show Stopper” and “Damaged”) sell over a half million copies each.
Initially a five-woman combo, Danity Kane has gone through multiple iterations and two messy breakups, the last spurred by a physical in-studio fight. Core band members Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex took advantage of the last split to spin off as the duo dumblonde. Dumblonde’s self-titled 2015 album is a sharp electropop confection packed with memorable (if not chart-breaking) singles.
The indisputably most prolific and critically acclaimed artist to come out of Danity Kane is D∆WN, née Dawn Richard, whose “Heart Trilogy” LPs (Goldenheart, Blackheart, and Redemptionheart) embrace progressive art-pop and experimental electronic music in ways that would surprise anyone who only knew her earlier work. Each of those albums was among my favorites in their given year of release; for first-time listeners, I’d recommend starting with the multilayered epic “Adderall/Sold.”
Richard, O’Day, and Bex have recently buried the hatchet and re-re-reformed as the slimmed down trio DK3. For their latest tour, which will be landing at downtown’s Irving Plaza this Sunday, both dumblonde and D∆WN will play individual opening sets prior to the trio’s headliner performance of classic Danity Kane hits. Additional public service announcement for D∆WN fanatics: Now’s the time to purchase tickets for her just-announced solo show opening for singer-songwriter Kimbra (she of “Somebody That I Used to Know” fame) on December 8 at Murmrr Theatre.
DK3 With D∆WN and Dumblonde
17 Irving Plaza, Manhattan (between East 15th and 16th Streets)
Sunday, September 30
Tickets start at $48; VIP meet-and-greet runs to $200 and up