Outstanding alumni recognized

By Sara Adams

Tracy Williamson was one of 13 NIU alumni to receive an Outstanding Alumni Award, which are given to those that accomplish outstanding professional and personal goals within 10 years of graduating from NIU.

Williamson, who graduated in 1999 with a marketing degree, earned the award for her work as a label director for Tyscot Records, the nation’s “oldest African American-owned and operated gospel-recording label,” according to Tyscot’s Web site. Her job is to make sure everything flows well between the artists and marketing team, including marketing plans, artist development, radio promotions, publicity and searching for new talent, she said.

She has written and produced for several gospel artists including The Rance Allen Group, Chicago Mass Choir and DeAndre Patterson.

“I always knew I wasn’t supposed to have a regular nine-to-five job,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be in the record industry, I just didn’t know how.”

Williamson always wanted to be a songwriter and producer, and she took some of her first steps toward that dream with Early Growth Productions, a music services company she started at the age of 12.

Williamson held various jobs with her NIU business degree before walking through the door to the record industry, including working in a beauty shop, day care and a shoe store.

Campus involvement helped prepare Williamson for her career and she said having such diverse organizations on campus are some of the stronger aspects of NIU. During her time at NIU, Williamson served as the Student Association director of cultural affairs, director of the black choir, co-chair for the Martin Luther King Jr. march, staff member of UNITY and was an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She received awards for her student leadership, as well as the Order of Omega and said serving in leadership positions for multiple organizations taught her many useful skills.

Williamson found out she was one of Ebony magazine’s “30 Leaders of the Future” in March and was featured in the April 2005 issue.

“It was a shock to me when Lynn Norman, the editor, brought me down there to do a photo shoot on me,” she said. “Ebony reaches millions of people across the world, including Africa and Europe. It’s kind of a good feeling to know that a lot of people were seeing your face and reading about you.”

Though Williamson said her ultimate goal in life was to own her own entertainment company, the most important thing is her relationship with God.

“I want to continue to be used by God, and I’m grateful that He gave me this gift and to use it for His glory,” she said.