Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Tracie Spencer’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of her with us in the comments below!
Born: July 12, 1976
Biography (via AllMusic): Born in 1976 to Theresa (née Williams) and Marvin E. Spencer Sr. (1938–2014), a well-known musician, Spencer was the youngest of four children. Spencer was raised in Waterloo, Iowa along with her three siblings; Marvin Jr., Marty and Tricia. Spencer's mother is of Creole and Indian descent; her father was French Canadian and Panamanian. The middle child of three, Spencer began singing at the age of three and began modeling in pageant competitions at age five. In addition to singing, Spencer was an honor student who also played basketball in elementary and high school. Spencer attended Columbus High School, graduating in 1994.
Spencer performed, produced and directed her first music videos before she was ten years of age. This led to her competing on the CBS televised talent competition Star Search in 1987. Shortly after her stint on Star Search where she won the $10,000 junior vocalist prize, Spencer became the youngest female artist to sign a record deal with a major label, Capitol Records, and to release a self-titled debut album on January 16, 1988. Spencer found success with the singles "Hide and Seek", "Symptoms of True Love" and her remake of John Lennon's "Imagine.”
Spencer's second album, Make the Difference, was released on August 27, 1990. The first single, "Save Your Love", showed an impressive standing at #7 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. Her following single, "This House,” became her biggest hit to date reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Tender Kisses,” one of her best-known ballads, hit #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and made her the youngest female artist to receive the ASCAP songwriter of the year award in 1992. The other singles, "This Time Make It Funky" and "Love Me,” charted relatively well on The Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.
Spencer served on the board of the Children's Defense Fund as a teen and was given the Martin Luther King Christian Leadership Award for being a positive role model to youth and traveling across the US and abroad as part of a "Stay In School" program. Spencer made a guest appearance on the hit ABC sitcom Family Matters as well as commercials, in 1993 and recorded the song "I'll Be There for You" for the 1997 film, Good Burger, "The Rain" for Down in the Delta, and Girlfight, starring Michelle Rodriguez.
Spencer also modeled for Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, and Dollhouse, which led to her being a part of New York City and Los Angeles' fashion weeks during 1999 and 2000, being styled by Derek Khan, being signed to "NEXT" modeling agency and appearing in numerous magazines. On June 29, 1999, Spencer released Tracie, which featured the singles "It's All About You (Not About Me)" and "Still in My Heart.”
Beginning in the early 2000s, Spencer started singing background vocals on hip-hop songs for rappers such as Kanye West ("Slow Jamz" and "Never Let Me Down" from The College Dropout), 50 Cent ("Back Down" from Get Rich Or Die Tryin'), and Eve as well as songwriting for other artist's projects. Spencer acted in the short film, A Tale of Two Sisters in 2004 and in 2006, she performed in a play called Choices in Los Angeles, California.