Wednesday, August 31, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teen star fits fair's emphasis on young people

Times Snohomish County Bureau

Raven Symone

When: 7:30 tonight.

Where: Evergreen State Fair grandstand, 14405 179th Ave. S.E. (179th and Highway 2), Monroe area.

Tickets: $10, includes fair admission; $5 without fair admission; $15 tickets are sold out.

Information: 360-805-6700, 425-388-3200 or

Most of us don't get to rerun childhood. But for Raven Symone, it's as close as the nearest "Cosby Show." As Olivia, she was adorable, precocious and, most importantly, line-perfect at age 3.

Now a blooming 19-year-old, she has a number of credits to her name, including her own TV show, "That's So Raven," with a movie version due in 2007.

There's also her musical side, which hits the Evergreen State Fair tonight.

"We have dancing and singing, but it's not just hip-hop. It's modern, it's jazz, it's African, it's classic," Symone said last week from Los Angeles, where she was filming episodes of her TV show.

Her appearance also represents the Monroe-area fair's increasing focus on youth.

"She's very much a fun, young, preteen and young-teenage artist," said Elizabeth Grant, the fair's marketing specialist. Upon hearing that Symone had been booked, "Immediately, my daughters [ages 12 and 14] wanted to come to the concert," Grant said.

"She's fun and energetic and has a real appeal to women. She reminds me of a Lucille Ball of this generation."

The Evergreen State Fair features one of the largest concentrations of variety-show talent in the county, with hundreds of attractions on the fair's stages during its nearly two-week run.

The focus on youth intensified this year with two major exhibits open during the run of the fair. The IGX, or Interactive Gaming Experience, with 20 ports for free video gaming on Xbox and other popular electronic games, has been packed since opening day. And the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry brought up a mini-museum — a portable, interactive science center with educational hands-on entertainment.

Grandstand entertainment has followed a proven formula: this past Monday's Mel and Pam Tillis classic-country show, yesterday's Blue Oyster Cult nostalgia-rock show and last Sunday's contemporary Christian act, Audio Adrenaline.

The "Kid Idol" and "Contemporary Country Idol" talent shows are inspired by "American Idol." "Kid Idol" winner Natalee Merill-Boyer of Woodinville will open for Symone.

Add contemporary country with tomorrow's Cowboy Country Bash with Phil Vassar and Sara Evans, and the youthful Symone tonight, and it has become even more diverse. "Once you add an act from TV, it adds a new audience," said Grant.

Raven Symone Christina Pearman grew up in front of a camera.

Born Dec. 10, 1985, she signed with the Ford Modeling Agency as a preschooler. In 1989, before her fourth birthday, she was cast as Olivia in "The Cosby Show."

"It feels like somebody else did all that," she said. "It's amazing that I was so young, working like that. I was fortunate to have a stable career."

She got her first starring TV series in "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," which ran from 1993 to 1997. By 2001, she had starred in two "Dr. Dolittle" movies with Eddie Murphy.

She also has a number of recording credits, including a hit single, "That's What Little Girls Are Made Of," which she made at age 5, when she signed with MCA records. Her soundtrack work for the movie "The Cheetah Girls" went platinum, and she's also received several honors, including People's Choice Awards and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Image Award.

Two years ago, she captured a new audience with "That's So Raven" on the Disney Channel. As Raven Baxter, a teen with flashes of psychic ability, she is the center of a group of friends, from rapper buddy Eddie to best friend Chelsea.

She's been compared to Lucille Ball more than once, and she said the physical comedy came naturally.

"It was me just being a clumsy teenage girl," she said. "I don't really take myself too seriously. I'm not a prissy little girl. I acted the fool onstage. In public school, I couldn't act this way."

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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