Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blake High grad chases a musical dream

As Christie Lenée stood in the front row of a concert at a West Palm Beach amphitheater in 2003, she had a number of career options.

Then a Blake High senior, she had spent her high school years studying classical guitar, but also dabbled in jazz, folk and rock. Writing poetry was another passion. She wasn't sure what direction she would take after graduation.

All that changed when the Dave Matthews Band took the stage. The popular jam band, with guitarist Tim Reynolds, made Lenée realize she didn't have to choose.

"The concert was a huge turning point," Lenée said. "I realized I could do all of those things: singing, playing guitar, writing poetry, dancing on stage. That played a huge role in shaping my craft."

Fast forward to 2010, and you find Lenée a bona fide professional musician. She opens for jazz saxophonist Eric Darius, another Blake alum, at the Winthrop Festival of Arts tonight at 6:30 in Riverview, but that will be just one entry on a growing resume. Lenée also has a studio CD to her credit, and an EP in the works. Equally important, she cherishes the unforgettable experience of sharing the stage with the people she once looked up to.

She played with Reynolds in New York and Philadelphia, and once opened for him at Skipper's Smokehouse. She also recently recorded with Jeff Coffin, who plays sax for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and the Dave Matthews Band.

"It's pretty amazing," said Lenée, who moved from Tampa to Philadelphia after the release of her CD last year. "Tim Reynolds is my favorite guitarist in the world and a huge hero of mine. Playing with him is a huge accomplishment for me."

The path she took from Blake High halls to jam sessions with Reynolds contained a lot of turns and twists. She enrolled in the University of South Florida and began studying jazz and music composition with noted professor LaRue Nicholson.

She took a break, however, to live and perform in Taiwan for a year. Along the way, she released two live CDs and two CDs recorded in a home studio. When she returned, she set a new goal of crafting her first studio CD and released Set It Free in 2009.

Lenée remains undaunted by the ups and downs of the music profession.

"There are a lot of people in this world who are really talented, but it takes so much more than that to make it," Lenée said. "It's really about believing in yourself, having a vision and going for it.

"To me, it's about sharing a positive energy with the world. I'm willing to go across the roller coaster of finances to follow my dream."

Lenée's latest efforts includes work with her new band, the Christie Lenée Project. She brings two of her new bandmates from Philadelphia for tonight's show, and will be joined by local friends Joe Cosas (keyboards) and Joshua Formanek (guitarist).

An intriguing mix of genres fuels Lenée's dreams. In her own words, it's "funky-folky-jazz-rock with elements of classical incorporated." What it's not is boring. Lenée promises to bring high energy to tonight's festival.

"In the end, the most important thing is putting something out that makes me smile and brings joy and smiles to others," she said.

I wonder if someone in tonight's audience will look up and dream about playing with Lenée some day.

That's all I'm saying.

Blake High grad chases a musical dream 04/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 12:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas aims to close reading gap between boys and girls

    K12

    Principal Kristy Cantu pored over Sutherland Elementary's test scores last year, looking for trends.

    Pinellas County teachers are being asked this year to pay closer attention to how their lessons might better engage boys. The district has come up with a "gender equity self-reflection" rubric for teachers to follow, with the goal of improving boys' performance in English language arts. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  2. Photo of the Day for August 21, 2017 - Trapped Under a Rainbow

    Human Interest

    'Trapped Under a Rainbow,' today's Photo of the Day, comes from Patti Presnell of Valrico, FL.

  3. Officials search for missing jet skier near Courtney Campbell Causeway

    Accidents

    The Fish & Wildlife Conservation, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police Department were searching for a missing jet skier Monday morning, according to broadcast reports.

  4. The Who's Roger Daltrey coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

    Blogs

    The Who may be nearing the end of their touring days. But Roger Daltrey is not.

    Roger Daltrey performing in Tampa in 2015.
  5. Jim Harbaugh's Michigan football team is still hiding its roster

    Blogs

    Jim Harbaugh slipped one more offseason antic in just at the buzzer.