- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

Anika Tene is no longer a closet singer. Miss Tene, 28, of Hyattsville, says she used to sing only for herself when she was sure no one else was listening. Recently, she quit her job as a teacher at Wood Acres Elementary School in Bethesda to pursue a music career.

"I would sing around the house, tape songs I made up and hide them in my room," she says.

Miss Tene will present a concert of jazz singing and spoken-word performance at Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center July 20. Many of her lyrics have Christian themes; their musical influences come from rhythm and blues and gospel music.

She wrote a song in honor of her grandmother, called "Shadow Dance." When her grandmother died, Miss Tene decided to share her talents with others. Her mother enjoyed the song so much that Miss Tene contacted a regional producer named Reginald Reid, who helped her record her first album, "My Prayer," at Blue House Productions in Silver Spring.

"My brother took it to church and let it play all over the church," she says. "Everyone was like, 'Who is that?' It gave me more encouragement."

Mr. Reid, an independent producer from Laurel, says Miss Tene has an original style. He likes how she incorporates issues of race through music, as in the song "Parallel," which compares the experiences of the Indians and black slaves. He also says he likes how she sings in a jazz style but also includes Christian messages through her songs.

"It's something people need to hear," Mr. Reid says. "It's a way to educate people as well as entertain them."

Miss Tene's favorite song on the album is "My Mother Is Sick," which is about the AIDS epidemic in Africa, "the motherland."

"When I was singing it in the studio, I felt like I was there in Africa," she says. "I cry out to God to give me wisdom to help me know how to help that continent."

Through music, Miss Tene hopes she can soothe the soul. She says she wants to speak to the hearts and minds of people and offer an alternative to many of the negative messages in contemporary music. One day, she hopes to have her own label to produce music that is calming.

Many of the songs on her album contain spiritual messages, such as "Stream of Blood," which talks about how Jesus shed His blood for the sins of the world. "Insane" is an uplifting song that encourages its listeners to be joyful in all circumstances.

Along with these original numbers on her album, at the concert, Miss Tene will sing other gospel standards, such as "I Love You Lord" and "We've Come This Far by Faith."

"[Many] artists are using music to talk about the foulest stuff," she says. "I want to use my music to reach people for God. I have something to tell you that will hopefully change your life and give you a new perspective."

WHAT: Anika Tene

WHEN: 7 p.m. July 20

WHERE: Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

TICKETS: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

PHONE: 301/405-2787

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