What is “Gospel Energy?” Powerhouse vocalist Dawn Tallman brings her positive spirit and true feelings to every song she sings, but doesn’t let it define or limit her. If you listen to TS Madison’s “Out the Box,” it is very that. Her chart-topping club hit with Bob Sinclar “Feel the Vibe” won the WMC International Dance Music Award for Best House/Garage/Deep House track this year. A well-deserved honor as it was the house record of WMC 2015, joining classic anthems like “Most Precious Love” and “Free” in the canon. With two new albums forthcoming and an update of “Teardrops” storming the clubs, we will all be treated to a lot of great new music from Miss Tallman this year. So, you better “WAKE UP” and be listening to it!
RS: Congratulations on the International Dance Music Award! How did you and Bob Sinclar meet up for “Feel the Vibe?”
Dawn Tallman: His A&R, Rodney Hill, reached out to me and said that Bob was in town and had a song that was a perfect fit for me and wanted me to come record it. I went to the session and the rest is history.
RS: Last year at the Winter Music Conference every party that I went to you were there with Bob singing it, it was the anthem of the conference.
Dawn Tallman: That was amazing, it really was. I have been coming to these conferences for years but to go last year and to be with someone so big and to be able to sing with him at all the parties that I had never been to was just great!
RS: And I loved your video, was that the first video that you have done?
Dawn Tallman: No, but I would say that it was the first full production video.
RS: You are "The Queen of Gospel Energy," what does that mean?
Dawn Tallman: I would define it as someone who is not in a box. I didn’t want to say gospel house or something else, energy is a feeling. As you hear in “Feel The Vibe” it is not really gospel-y but you can feel some soul there versus for “You Are Why” on Slaag Records. That track is full on gospel but the energy is still there, so whether I am singing a country song or a rock song that soul and gospel roots are still there.
RS: You sing country?
Dawn Tallman: I will. Come on Garth!
RS: You just put out “I Am Not Afraid” and “For Me” as a double A side single and this is the first song with just you on it in a while, Did you write these songs?
Dawn Tallman: Josh Milan did. It is out on Honeycomb Music.
RS: I have not heard of Honeycomb Music.
Dawn Tallman: He has been out for about 5 years now on his own label and it is doing really well.
RS: One of the many things that I love about you is that you support all of your friends and all the other singers.
Dawn Tallman: When you support other people it comes back around. For me there is no competition, we all have gifts and the bible says that your gift makes room for you. We all have gifts and I am going to support everyone’s gifts. That is just me, I have always been that person. We don’t have to compete and I am loving what you are doing. When you send out those vibrations it is like a boomerang and it comes back to you so I am going to get those same vibrations back.
RS: With this song I saw you all around the world. You were on the road like I had never see you before. What was it like keeping up with a schedule like that?
Dawn Tallman: It was crazy, I loved every moment but it was crazy, we would just sleep on the plane. We were in private jets and we literally went to three countries in one night. We did France, Switzerland and then we ended up in Ibiza that night. I just slept and took a nap during the time it took to get to each country.
RS: This was probably the first time that a lot of those people saw you. How were you embraced?
Dawn Tallman: They loved me. You know what I loved about it, they loved Bob Sinclar but he didn’t just make it about him, he made sure that the people knew about me and they got to know me. They loved me, this whole year has been such a fabulous experience. I am really grateful that I have gotten so many new fans because of this record.
RS: Is there another Bob Sinclar collab coming?
Dawn Tallman: Working on it, we will see.
RS: Because she is in both of our lives and she is how we met, how did you meet Barbara Tucker?
Dawn Tallman: Wow, 22 years ago I did my first show at the Sound Factory bar. I had a song out called “Caught in Luv” my first song ever. I had never heard of Sound Factory bar and I did a show there. It was the first time that I had heard about Louie Vega and all those people. I met Barbara and she was so welcoming and supportive and from that point on that was it, we have been friends for that long.
RS: When I met you, I was a DJ who loved “Wake Up.” It was Winter Music Conference and I was on Collins Avenue and I saw four gorgeous African American women get out of the car and I was thinking that y’all had to be singers. I went up and asked you if you were Dawn Tallman and you said “yes baby!” It was me and Dewight Barkley and we followed you around to all of the clubs that night. That changed my life. That was everything.
Dawn Tallman: I am not a shady person. I don’t know who you could be so I am not going to be mean to you, I am going to embrace you. Just the fact that you knew me I was like “ohhhh somebody knows me.” Remember your buttons?
RS: Yes, back in the about.com days! If I can get personal, I saw something on Instagram that kind of scared me. It was you with some injection needles, what happened?
Dawn Tallman: Look. I am getting old! It’s arthritis and my knee was huge and it had so much water in it and they had to drain it.
RS: Another song that means a lot to me that you did was “Save a Place on the Dance Floor For Me,” how did you get involved with that project?
Dawn Tallman: Mel Cheren, rest in peace. Uncle Mel called me up and said that he had a song that he wrote and the only person that he could hear singing the song out of all the singers that he knew was me. I felt so honored that he personally called me and said that he wanted me to do the song. He said that he couldn’t think of anyone else and the song meant so much to him. He started talking about Larry Levan and I kind of got a whole history about the Paradise Garage. It was amazing, so when I went to do it it really meant something to me.
RS: Right now they just rereleased “This Joy” with new mixes, is there any chance that “Wake Up” will come back?
Dawn Tallman: I don’t know, that is something that I probably need to revisit, that would be cute.
RS: You wrote “Wake Up” and that is the perfect mix between gospel house of positivity and the dance floor. What were you thinking when you wrote it?
Dawn Tallman: Oh boy, I was in my real gospel-y state at that time and really going hard on writing lyrics about being positive. At that time there was a lot happening in the world and all I kept hearing in my head was “wake up everybody, it is a brand new day, God made this day, wake up” and that was where I was.
RS: I am a total fan; I can’t help it. What should we look forward to next from you?
Dawn Tallman: I have the maxi single out called “For Me” but there is a full album that goes along with that.
RS: There is an album coming?
Dawn Tallman: Yes! Two! There is one album that is all house and the second project is going to blow your mind. It is a mixture; I did Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” so when you hear it you are going to cry. I thought about you, you are going to cry. That song means so much to me, it is going to touch so many people, so be prepared to have napkins and cry.
RS: I mentioned that I do this conference in Connecticut, the LGBTQIA Youth conference called True Colors and we always end the party with that song so we definitely need to work to get you there.
Dawn Tallman: I have a YouTube link that I am going to send you where I sung it live with a band.
RS: Okay, I am schvitzing here. When they make the movie of your life, what actress is going to play you?
Dawn Tallman: Me, so I know! That is a hard question, I never thought about that. I am an original, I don’t think that anyone could play me.
RS: Great answer, that’s awesome! What is something that you have always wanted to be asked but you have not been asked?
Dawn Tallman: I don’t think that anyone has ever asked me how I survived through this whole industry. People don’t know my back story or what I have been through and all they see is the stage and smiles but I have a real story behind the scenes. I think that my story would help a lot of people, it is personal but I think that sometimes people need to hear about the real person and that will give them hope to be able to push forward, even through adversities.
RS: If you could work with any producer, who would you want to work with?
Dawn Tallman: I would really love to work with Dr. Dre or Timbaland. I am so serious!
RS: I can hear it! What would you like to say to all of your fans out there listening?
Dawn Tallman: Thank you for all of your love and support throughout the years. You guys have been my supporters, fans and lovers of my music and I appreciate you. Keep moving forward and in the words of my new single “For Me” it says “you can be who you want to, but for me I chose to be happy” so you choose to be happy, you have that choice!
RS: I choose to be happy! Every time I see you you are beautiful and done. Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
Dawn Tallman: Oh man, honestly it comes from me. I am very Afrocentric and I love African beauty, it is a soul thing but I have a little gothic girl living inside of me too. I have always been eclectic. Growing up I was kind of gothic and then I kind of did the crazy hair but of course I am older now so I have to look mature but with a little funk to it. Honestly it’s an everyday thing, I could wake up tomorrow and put on some ripped up jeans and a t-shirt, it’s just according to how I feel. I am free and I love that, I am not in a box.
Interview conducted March 2016 during Winter Music Conference.