Although Danity Kane isn’t quite the household name in the UK, they were effectively the Girls Aloud of the United States for a while, with the girl group selling millions of records and topping the Billboard 200 with their debut self-titled release, whilst arising from Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs‘ reality TV show Making The Band.
When they broke up for the first time in 2009, band members seeked independent avenues. Dawn Richard started a trilogy of ‘Heart’ albums consisting of alternative R&B, high fantasy lyrics mixed with redemption and dramatic eclecticism. The indie approach of self-funding the first album contributed to the praise. Audrea Fimbles detoured into musicals and appeared on Dawn Richard’s latest album Blackheart.
Like Richard, Shannon Bex has also started a fundraising campaign to successfully release her debut album I’m A Woman. She has also formed an alternative dance duo with another ex-Danity Kane member Aubrey O’Day called Dumblonde. O’Day is also known for her philanthropist activities (The Pink Project, Fighting Aids Now).
This leaves the equally charitable D. Woods. “I really just do what I feel is right. I have a passion for inspiring youth to be their best because there were key people in my life who did that for me. The Foolish Dreamer program came as a result of a campaign for my record ‘Foolish Dreamer’ on ‘The Gray Area’ EP. I saw how many people were moved by the song and decided to take the concept to high schools“.
Wanita Denise Woodgett – who calls herself D. Woods to avoid mispronunciation of her inarticulate Christian name – is a multi-talented entertainer and humanitarian on the verge of stardom. She has taken control of her solo career in a similar vein to other Danity Kane comrades, and formed her own record label Woodgrane Entertainment, where she also serves as CEO of the company. “It’s definitely empowering. It’s also a challenge wearing all those hats but I’m up for it“, comments Woods.
In May, she released a song called “Find Your Way” from the soundtrack to Blackbird; a movie that boasts the prolific actor Isaiah Washington (Ghost Ship, Romeo Must Die, True Crime) and as D.Woods explains: “The film follows a young man battling with his sexual identity and his obligations to his family and religious beliefs (Baptism)“. She also has a supporting role in the film starring as the character Leslie Crandall. Woods presented the song to the film’s producer Keith Brown and music supervisor Kim Burse in 2014, during the film’s production. “They both loved it and felt it was perfect for the film“.
Originally growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts, Woods trained in dance and theatre at the NYU Tisch School of Arts in New York. An institute that possesses famous musician alumni such as Karen O, Lady Gaga and Glee’s Idina Menzel. Regarding her multi-faceted interests, she says, “let’s just say I can take a lil (little) something from all art. Even bad art, you can still learn from it“.
Speaking of Glee, D. Woods recently covered Wham’s “Last Christmas” inspired by the musical TV show’s rendition: “I covered the Wham record because I liked the way it was done on the FOX show ‘Glee’. I’m sure I’ve heard it before but I definitely was an infant or not quite born yet when it came out. And I didn’t want to cover the usual Christmas song to put out for Christmas“.
One of her own songs “Ur Tatoo” embraces body art in a celebratory manner, even elevating one man’s ink designs as superior in artistic quality to Pablo Picasso. “‘Ur Tattoo’ came from my friends pointing out to me that I have a type (of boyfriend) and it happens to involve tattoos, lol. I do like how body art is a way of expression for people and their character. It’s like a conversation piece“.
Before being on centre stage in music videos, Woods has previously exercised her love of dancing by appearing in promos for the likes of Lil Wayne, Jay Z and Ludracris. “Dance is always something I find ways to incorporate, no matter what. If it was a video for another artist I’m sure we would find a way to make it make sense“.
Music clearly runs in the Woodgett family household, as D.Woods recommends listening to her older sister singer-songwriter Shanell Woodgett, who also worked on music videos as a background dancer for Ciara and is signed to Lil Wayne’s label Young Money Entertainment. Shanell has already been involved in D. Woods’ career as she helped write songs for Danity Kane. D. Woods’ record label WoodGrane Entertainment is also taking shape, as she introduces us to Men Are Born Kings Are Made, an African Hip-Hop project from Lloyd Musa.