Dana Dawson – this is how I wanna be loved
Dana Dawson was born in Queens, NY in 1974. She became a child actress aged 7 but would move into the music business with more success away from home homeland. Her stage debut came in 1981 in the Broadway play Annie, later made into a successful film but after a growing career into the mid-80’s, Dana turned her attention to singing and in 1988, aged 14, she released her debut single, “Ready To Follow You”. The song went to No.15 in France and also charted in Belgium, but alas, not in the US. It was France where Dana enjoyed much of her initial success and it is here that she recorded her debut album, the aptly named “Paris, New York And Me”. The album was a huge success gaining a Gold certification for sales of more than 50,000 copies.
“Paris, New York And Me” would produce two top five hits in 1991 with “Romantic World” and “Tell Me Bonita” along with the top thirty hit “Open Hearts”. From this success in France and in other parts of mainland Europe, Dana was picked up and signed to EMI Records so as to promote her music to a worldwide audience. During 1994 she began recording her second album that would emerge the following year. The lead single would become her best known and most successful song of all, “3 Is Family”, released in June 1995, the song made No.9 in the UK and was a top twenty hit across Europe as well as breaking the Australian singles chart, if not at a lowly No.54. Dana’s new found success was, however, restricted to international waters as the American market seemed indifferent to her sound and style – perhaps too much of a threat to Whitney?
Dana’s second album, “Black Butterfly”, followed that Summer and would feature songwriting and production from the likes of Ric Wake (Taylor Dayne), Lotti Golden (Eternal) and Narada Michael Walden. The album only found limited success commercially, but the hit singles kept coming from it with “Got To Give Me Love” and “Show Me” both reaching the top thirty in the UK and in Italy, while a fourth single, “How I Wanna Be Loved”, only just narrowly missing the UK top 40. Nevertheless, this track, not included on the original “Black Butterfly”, prompted a re-release of the album in 1996 in expanded form with the single as well as a number of previously recorded tracks and demos. Dana worked with Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, also music producers, in 1997 on the single “More More More”, which despite being used for many of their shows that year, was not a commercial hit.
Dana returned to acting at the beginning of the 21st century when she was cast in the role of Mimi for the rock musical, Rent. She continued with this character into 2001 when the show hit Broadway, where Dana had originally made her debut some twenty years earlier. She recorded the song “Nice Life” that same year, but perhaps poignantly, this would be her last. She continued to perform on stage into the 00’s but soon after marrying Jazz musician Jason Curry in 2007, Dana was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She died in New York on 10th August 2010 three days after celebrating her 36th birthday. Dana’s life and career were tragically cut short but she leaves a body of work that she can be proud of both on stage and in sound. This is how Dana would wanna be loved. RIP black butterfly.