Hundreds of contestants vied for a spot in Diddy's girl group on MTV's smash reality series "Making the Band 3," and now the show's five victors - Dawn, Aubrey, D. Woods, Shannon and Aundrea - under the name Danity Kane, are preparing to take their musical partnership to the next level.
The group's eponymous debut album for Diddy's label, Bad Boy Records, is an intoxicating mix of sexy R&B, hip-hop and pop that showcases the quintet's flawless vocal talent and passion. It also boasts contributions from such top producers as Timbaland (Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Aaliyah), Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins (Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey), Mario Winans (P. Diddy, Destiny's Child, The Notorious B.I.G.), Jim Jonsin (Twista, Jamie Foxx, Trina), Bryan-Michael Cox (Usher, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton), Rami (*NSYNC, the Veronicas) and Ryan Leslie (Britney Spears, Tha Dogg Pound). Diddy is the album's Executive Producer, with Bad Boy Executive VP Harve Pierre serving as Co-Executive Producer.
The group's sleek, Jonsin-produced lead single, "Show Stopper," featuring Yung Joc, received tens of thousands of plays on MySpace.com (where Danity Kane has cultivated throngs of admirers) long before being delivered to radio. Other standout tracks on the disc include the upbeat "One Shot," produced by Cox, and the smoldering, Timbaland-helmed R&B cut "Right Now."
Collectively, the quintet possesses a notable breadth of talent and experience in vocal performance, dance, songwriting, acting, visual art and more. And though viewers of MTV's "Making the Band" are well aware of the differences in their personalities, it's clear that they've emerged as a unit - playing to their strengths and encouraging one another to grow.
Danity Kane takes its name from a female anime superhero conceived by Dawn, whose skills as an illustrator caught Diddy's eye. The impresario was so taken with the character's beguiling handle that he selected it for the group, deciding it captured their vibrant appeal - and would represent them not merely as superstars but as a band of heroines.
Given her upbringing, New Orleans-bred Dawn seems to have been destined for a music career. Her mother owned a dance studio, while her father was a keyboardist who played in the R&B band Chocolate Milk (which opened for Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire and other luminaries). Her mom's talent and her dad's gigs ignited in Dawn an unquenchable desire to perform. She studied tap, jazz, ballet and hip-hop dance and became a cheerleader for the New Orleans Hornets before joining the group Angelique, which toured the South supporting singer Anthony Hamilton. "The girls call me the passion in the group," she reveals. "When I'm on stage, I become someone else. That's when I can be wild, sexy, crazy and passionate. I leave everything at the mic."
California native Aundrea was singing rancheros and other song forms by the time she was old enough to talk, and by age eight she was a fixture in her church's choir. Roles in school plays followed, and in her teens she began recording in a studio and joined the pop ensemble Intrigue. It was with this group that her love of stage performance fully blossomed. The youngest in her tight-knit family, Aundrea headed home whenever possible during breaks in the shooting of "Making the Band 3."
Shannon hails from Portland, Ore and has been an avid singer and dancer since childhood. She learned a great deal about performing with a group when she became a Portland Trailblazers cheerleader at age 19. Eclectic in her musical taste, she expresses admiration for acts as far afield as Aerosmith and Garth Brooks. The only member of Danity Kane who sports a wedding ring, Shannon attributes some of the poise and confidence her bandmates have praised in her to the bond she enjoys with her spouse. "He's so positive," she declares of her husband, a fellow dancer. "He helps me push myself."
"I've done musical theater and dramatic stage productions, interned at Power 105 in New York, appeared in commercials and music videos, and toured as a dancer with major recording artists," reveals D. Woods. "I've tried it all, because I like to stay busy." Since her earliest days growing up in Springfield, Mass., she's been enamored of every aspect of performance; over the years she's studied modern, ballet, hip-hop and West African dance, undergone intensive voice training, developed her songwriting skills and educated herself about the business. A fan of Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z, among many others, she's equally at home with hip-hop and classic soul.
At age three, Aubrey stepped onstage - and never looked back. Reared in the sun-soaked confines of Palm Springs, Calif., she appeared in productions of virtually every major musical production (including "Annie," "The Sound of Music," "A Chorus Line," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Wizard of Oz"). She won a slew of honors for both singing and acting in various talent competitions before attending the University of California at Irvine. Her post-graduation international travels took her to Asia, India and South Africa, among other places, and moved her to become involved in charitable works. In addition to volunteering in battered women's shelters and refugee centers and serving as a Big Sister, she founded the organization Fight AIDS Now (FAN). "The stage has taught me the things I value most: compassion, patience, and eternal love for anything or anyone expressive and unrestrained," she says.
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