Columbiana teen sings her way out of a jam

Natalie Sprouse started to record her first album last August, but she ran out of money after laying down the first track.

She needed a few thousand bucks to finish it, but alas, she had none. Whatever could she do?

Then she heard about this singing contest with a cash prize of $5,000. All she needed to do was win it, and then she’d have enough money to make her dream come true.

Yes, it sounds like the corny plot of any of a hundred television shows.

It’s also true.

Sprouse, 17 and a junior at Columbiana High School, started recording “Queen Bee” in August at 330 Studios in her hometown. She quickly ran out of funds.

Her aunt told her about the Singing Star competition at Powers Auditorium, sponsored by the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. Sprouse entered it in September, and a few weeks later, walked away with the $5,000 prize as the champion.

With her winnings, Sprouse went back to the studio. She finished up her album last month.

To hear a sample or buy “Queen Bee,” go to

To hear Sprouse sing live, go to Salem Community Theatre on April 14. Sprouse will have a record-release concert that night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, or in advance by calling 330-332-9688.

Sprouse will be backed by a five-piece band at the show, which will be the first in a series presented by the Salem theater.

She’ll sing 13 of her original songs and four covers at the show.

Sprouse is no stranger to Salem Community Theatre. She took voice and dance lessons there and also appeared in many plays there.

Her Americana style blends elements of folk, jazz, blues, pop and honky-tonk.

Sprouse has been singing ever since she was a young child, and she won the inaugural Main Street vocal competition in Columbiana four years ago at age 13.

She also was a member of the Salem Youth Chorus for three years and toured the UK with the group in 2010.


The Strange Familiar — which includes Boardman native Nick Sainato on drums — will release its next album, “Chasing Shadows,” on Tuesday.

Many will remember the Akron-based band for its solid run on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010.

Fronted by crystal-voiced singer-pianist Kira Leyden, the soft-pop band recently signed with Krian Music Group/Universal Fontana of New York. The video for “Being Me,” the first single off the new album, recently hit the top spot on mtvU. Another new song, “Redemption,” will be featured on The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” on April 19.

Fresh off a week of shows at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, last month, the Strange Familiar will do a record-release show April 27 at Musica in downtown Akron, and another one the next night, April 28, at Cedars in Youngstown.

The Strange Familiar also includes Jeff Andrea on guitar and Frank Freeman on bass.

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