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Tracie Spencer, a Waterloo native and Columbus High grad who made a name for herself as a young singing sensation, continues to work hard in the entertainment business.

Now 26, Spencer lives in Los Angeles where she is busy working on several new projects.

Spencer began singing at age 3. In 1986, she began competing on Ed McMahon's "Star Search." In 1987, she won the $10,000 junior vocalist prize and at age 11, signed a record deal with Capitol Records. At the time, she became the youngest single artist ever signed to a major recording contract.

Her self-titled debut, "Tracie Spencer" was released in 1988 featuring the singles "Symptoms of True Love" and "Hide and Seek." She toured the East and West Coasts and Europe, and was nominated for the Image Awards' "new young female artist of the year."

In 1989, she recorded her second album, "Make the Difference," with the hit ballad "Tender Kisses" and "This House," a socially conscious song about the homeless, which reached No. 3 on the R&B charts, crossed over the rock and pop charts. The disc eventually sold 400,000 copies.

Her third LP, "Tracie" was released in 1999-2000.

Spencer said since then, she has been touring with that project, and then started writing on other projects.

"I linked up with Dr. Dre and got a chance to work on rapper Eve's last CD (as well as with) 50 cent and the G-Unit album," Spencer wrote by e-mail. "I also co-wrote two songs and sang a duet with a new artist on jrecords by the name of Pretty Tony who's CD will be out this summer."

Spencer said she also has done vocals on Kanye West's album that has recently been released on rapper Jay Z's label, Roc-a-fella Records.

"Outside of music I also have been doing print work as well as a couple of film projects. One that I'm working on is an urban comedy," she said.

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Spencer tries to get back to Waterloo at least once a year. She has plenty of family still around. "My family and the peace and quiet of a small town" is what she remembers best about Waterloo.

Some of her fondest memories are performing at all the talent shows as a little girl.

Spencer is also heavily involving in helping another metro area group find success. Since 2000, she has been working with three area men, Dante Means, Reginald McGhee and Ashon Denton make it as a singing group, first known as Promiz, then Metro, and now IA.

"They came out to L.A. and have recorded some songs," she said.

Spencer said she also is getting back into the studio to start a fourth CD.

-- Nancy Raffensperger Newhoff, Courier Managing Editor

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