Having lived in the Big Apple for most of her childhood, Tiffany Evans never imagined she'd catch her big break when her family moved to gambling haven Atlantic City, N.J.

Having lived in the Big Apple for most of her childhood, Tiffany Evans never imagined she'd catch her big break when her family moved to gambling haven Atlantic City, N.J.

"We were having a hard time -- we were homeless -- and we thought we'd go to Florida to live with my grandmother. But we didn't have enough money to make it, so we went to Atlantic City and stayed," Evans explains. "I snuck into the Tropicana and this guy handed me the mic. So I sang 'I Will Always Love You.' To see everyone enjoy my music made clear to me I wanted to sing."

Motivated by the response that day, her family started shopping around for labels and trying to get Evans singing gigs. When Columbia Records took a meeting with her, the pint-sized singer became hopeful, but nothing materialized. "I visited them but we didn't work anything out," says Evans. She was 10 at the time.

A few months later, she landed a spot at the famed television talent show "Star Search" and won five times in a row. The day after her last win, Evans received a call from none other than Columbia to cut a deal.

Things took off from there for Evans, who appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" not just once but twice. The second time Oprah invited her back after she reappeared on "Star Search" and reclaimed her winning title during the "Battle of the Champions." "She called me back to the show and was asking me about where I wanted to go in life. It was crazy for me," Evans, 15, says. "She's an awesome person."

That same year, Evans partnered with the Limited Too clothing line and released an exclusive EP through the retail outlet. She also started to land movie roles. "My first was a role on a show called 'The District.' Then I did 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman.' Tyler Perry is amazing," she says of the movie director. "He taught me a lot on how movies work and how it is to be behind the scenes."

Now, Evans is ready to introduce her first full-length self-titled album, which will be released in November. Her first single, the Ciara-assisted "Promise Ring," debuted at No. 75 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart this week.

"The album talks about love, talks about life and everything else that goes on," says Evans. "I don't want to be kiddy now, but I don't want to be too grown either. I just want to be right in the middle and be able to reach everyone."