As a lifelong card-carrying member of the Danity Kane brigade, I’ve always sought to support the five lovely ladies of former Making the Band fame. (Yes, even Shannon Bex and her weird country EP.) But of all the members (not that it’s a competition!), Miss Dawn Richard has surely shown the most impressive artistic development.

After the Danity dismantling back in ’09, Dawn stayed on with Diddy for his short-lived pet project Diddy Dirty Money, resulting in a series of smashes like “Hello Good Morning (feat. T.I.)” and “Coming Home (feat. Skylar Grey).”

Now, she’s doing her own thing: Her own label, her own sound, her own rules. After releasing a mixtape called The Prelude to A Tell Tale Heart back in 2011, along with a truly forward-thinking, underrated collection of next-level R&B jams and club bangers called Armor On earlier in 2012, the songstress is gearing up to release her long-awaited debut solo LP: GoldenHeart, out on January 15, 2013.

To preview the upcoming collection, Dawn hosted an album pre-release party at SOB’s in NYC last week, which I caught along with fellow Dawn stan-friend, James.

Truly, Miss Dawn put on an amazing show, serving ferocious choreography and copious amounts of sass while performing various tracks from her back catalog, including Armor On cuts like “Bombs,” “Change” and “Faith”–plus, a taste of the new: “It’s like I can see someone’s passion in their eyes,” she explained to the crowd at one point before launching into a song inspired by Peter Gabriel‘s “In Your Eyes.” (It sounded very promising!)

Given that her new tunes are a unique blend of soulful croons, booty-drop friendly beats and full-on diva belting, Dawn was pushing her vocals to the limit all night long, leading the crowd of (very!) excitable fans to battle–and church. She was also eager to interact, offering up several heartfelt thank you speeches throughout the night: “I know some of you have been there from the very beginning,” she explained to the crowd.

Dawn’s team just put together an excellent recap video of the night’s events, which you can now catch below. As one can see, Dawn was not playing around with that pony tail.

Bring on GoldenHeart!

Armor On was released on March 27. (iTunes)

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