SLS Baha Mar
Candiace Dillard-Bassett has big plans for next Christmas.
The singer and Real Housewives of Potomac star is going to be releasing a Christmas album in 2023, making her the first in a long line of Housewives who have transitioned into music to do so.
"This is exclusive, I've not said this to anyone yet!" Dillard-Bassett tells PEOPLE, ahead of her performance at the SLS Baha Mar in The Bahamas. "I just love the holidays — it's my favorite time of the year — and I love Christmas music, so I'm excited to get back into the studio and put together my own Christmas EP to celebrate. Let's deck these halls!"
Dillard-Bassett, who records and performs simply under that moniker, already has a Christmas song of her own — the original smooth R&B jam "Heartbreak on Christmas," which she released last year.
"That'll definitely make the record, as well as some other original songs," Dillard-Bassett, 35, says. "But I have some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs that I have to cover, like 'The Christmas Song' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.' "
One song that won't be on the list? "Away in a Manger."
"Shout out to Lisa Barlow, who has immortalized that on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City," Dillard-Bassett shares. "Listen, Lisa? I was not mad at her. She did her best work. It gave what it needed to get. So no, that will not be on my Christmas EP. That's all Lisa!"
Dillard-Bassett has been pounding the pavements to make her launch into music a reality ever since she first started showing off her vocals on season 3 of RHOP, when she first joined the franchise.
At her 2018 wedding to husband Chris Bassett, featured on season 4 of the Bravo series, she sang and recorded the original love ballad "I See You" for Bassett. A go-go remix of the tune featuring Big G and UNO came in April 2020, the song — featuring Dillard-Bassett's luscious vocals with a more upbeat backing — sparking demand in audiences for a full album.
Deep Space was just that, the LP dropping in September 2021 to much acclaim, reaching over 3 million streams and spawning the hit single "Drive Back." And just over the weekend, she made her international concert debut with her performance in the Caribbean.
"My dreams have come true," Dillard-Bassett tells PEOPLE of her set, which kicked off a new live concert series at The Sky Bar, the SLS Baha Mar's popular rooftop venue. "Music has always been the goal and looking back at the journey I've been on over these past few years to get here as an artist, I just feel so lucky and appreciative for everyone who has supported me along the way."
"In the words of the great Kandi Burruss, 'Bitch, I'm worldwide!' " she joked.
SLS Baha Mar
At her concert, the former Miss United States performed songs off Deep Space and Deep Space Deluxe — her new album that drops Dec. 30.
It's led by the new single, "Insecure," which features a new verse by rapper Trina (RHOP viewers will see the two work on the track's mix on Sunday's episode).
"She really is the baddest bitch and the diamond princess," Dillard-Bassett says, of working with the rap icon. "I mean, it was impossible not to fangirl over her when we first met because she is one of those female Black women in hip-hop who blazed a trail for all of us, whether you are in the music industry or not. And to top it off, she's down to earth and so, so sweet."
"When I first heard her verse, I fell on the floor. I had chills and I just fell on the floor," Dillard-Bassett adds. "I listened to it maybe three times before I knew every lyric — and it's not easy! — but I was so enamored with the message. It's flirty, it's cheeky, it's fun, and it's versatile because this is a poppy R&B song, so it shows Trina's versatility. She really was able to elevate it and make this song even better than it was before."
SLS Baha Mar
As for fans hoping to see Dillard-Bassett on stage soon, the RHOP star is going back on another City Winery tour early next year, with stops in cities like New York City and Nashville. "I loved working with the folks at City Winery," Dillard-Bassett says. "They invited me to do a few more cities next year so I'm really excited about that. I'll probably release details about that at the top of the year."
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Will a Christmas tour be next? "Now that could be fun," says Dillard-Bassett. "But Mariah's got that on lock. I'm not trying to mess with the Queen of Christmas."