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Judge for Dezaray Dawn

Marietta, GA
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Portrait of Dezaray Dawn
Dezaray Dawn is an exciting new artist on the future soul scene, possessing a voice which resonates with the depth of both emotion and experience. This German-born, Southern-raised Army brat is a self-described gypsy, having lived in 2 countries, 4 states, and 6 US cities by the time she was 16. She attended 16 schools in 12 years, and Dezaray states: “When nothing else was solid in my life, there was always music. Whether listening to what my parent’s were playing or composing tunes in my head, music was my solace, my friend, my release, my comfort.” Born to two military parents, and raised in an environment where the only constant was change, the one firm foundation was music. Dezaray’s mother was a part-time nightclub singer, and her father’s family includes several highly successful recording artists (neo-soul artist Anthony David is a cousin, as are Sean Stockman of Boys II Men fame, and Tiny from Xscape), so it was only natural that their home was always filled with music. “Soul,
pop, funk -- you name it. Everything except rap and hip-hop. My mom wouldn’t allow it,” Dezaray says with a laugh. But even this genre came to influence her own musical choices later on, as she grew to appreciate the tribal beats and syncopation of what she was spinning during her time spent as a highly regarded DJ at a progressive club in Nashville.

In addition to the sounds of Chaka, Aretha and Natalie from her mother’s collection, Dezaray Dawn’s early life was spent emulating artists she came to know on MTV. She wanted to “sing like Prince, dance like Michael, and be a showman like Madonna.” As her life became more turbulent following her parents’ divorce and the moves became more frequent due to her mother’s alcoholism, music was her escape. And more than anything, Dezaray came to understand the universality of soul music. Whether on the streets, in a shelter, or in the relative comfort of a stable home, soul music encompassed all she was experiencing and the feelings which ensued from being the victim of circumstances. Immediately following graduation, Dezaray struck out on her own, and, after a lifetime spent on the move, decided to settle right where she was: Nashville, otherwise known as Music City.

Dezaray held a variety of jobs, but it was her gig as a DJ in one of Nashville’s more progressive clubs that further enriched her already diverse musical tastes. Before spinning at this now-defunct Nashville hotspot, this avid music junkie had truly appreciated all styles of music, but it was Dezaray’s time in the booth which helped her re-discover electronica and the wide variety it encompasses, from house music to facets that include elements of soul and tribal. This led to horizon-broadening discoveries of artists such as Groove Armada, Armand Van Helden, D’Nell, Silhouette Brown, 4Hero, J*Davey, Muhsinah, Vikter Duplaix, Lisa Shaw, Georgia Ann Muldrow… the list goes on and on. Not only did Dezaray expose club-goers to an amazing array of artists many had never heard before, but each of these artists would later come to influence Dezaray’s style in her own music.

In addition to her time spent as a DJ, Dezaray studied music technology but came to realize that her heart was geared more to the artistic side of the industry. Having composed poetry throughout her life as a way of coping with all she was living through, she first ventured into the spotlight as a performing poet at various open mike events around Nashville. This is where she honed her reputation as a wordsmith, but given her love of music in all its forms, it was only a matter of time before she set her poetry to music.

Dezaray’s wealth of experiences in her young life, along with her total immersion in all types of music, has informed her musical choices as a composer and performer. Instead of being limited by genres and labels, Dezaray has pulled elements from many different styles and fused them together to form her own unique sound. From the driving rhythms and bass lines of hip-hop, to the futuristic sounds of electronica, to the far-flung elements of soul from around the world, all play a part in making Dezaray Dawn’s music what it so distinctly is today.

Dezaray has put together an EP that gives listeners a taste of what this young artist with the old soul is all about. The disc is titled “Chameleon,” which is quite apropos, given the widely divergent influences, which can be heard on the 7 tracks Dezaray composed and offers for listeners’ enjoyment.

Dezaray, now based in Atlanta, has performed at several open-mike events, and is building a following in Atlanta’s future soul scene. In addition to her EP, Dezaray can be heard on several pod casts of up-and-coming independent artists, and she has been featured on Atlanta’s 89.3. She has also performed at Cenci in Atlanta to much acclaim.

Dezaray Dawn’s music is soul music at it’s finest -- occasionally raw, often sweet, but always emotional and from the heart. Combine that with the solid rhythms of bass and percussion and the futuristic sounds of electronica, and you have one the most talented young artists of future soul.