AUBURN GRESHAM — For Christian pop-rock singer Tahesha Orji, "Incredible" is more than a debut album title. It's a spot-on description of her dedication to her community and the children in it.
When the 12-year Auburn Gresham caseworker isn't working with young adults at her day job, she's singing her heart out to inspire them.
"I use my music to uplift people and not tear them down or degrade them. Too much of that is going on with young rappers," said Orji, 28, who's been writing poetry since she was 7. "I love inspiring people and working with children."
Orji, who goes by the stage name Tye Okorie, will perform Saturday at the American Diabetes Association's free Expo/Chicago, a health and wellness event at McCormick Place. She's scheduled to take the stage at exactly 2:22 p.m.
Orji takes particular pride in her strong community ties, pointing out that she works and attends church where she lives.
"How many people can say that? Most people work outside their community and attend church somewhere else," she said. "Not me though. I want to use the skills God has blessed me with and improve my community.
"This is where I live, work and praise God, so this is where I should be working to make life better for everyone," said Orji.
Orji hopes to have an even greater impact on youth when she takes her state exam to become a public school teacher this summer. Ultimately, she said, she hopes to open an elementary school in the neighborhood.
Her education has prepared her for the task. The West Side native and Crane High grad holds a bachelor's degree in industrial and organizational psychology and a master's in educational leadership, she said.
"I would still sing, but teaching would become my new full-time job," said Orji, a member at Ambassadors For Christ Church. "I may not have any children of my own, but I am good working with children."
Orji, who enjoys listening to gospel singer Kim Burrell, bowling and baking cookies for children at church, has her fingers crossed this month.
"I will be attending a promoter's conference in Atlanta . . . and if all goes well, I will leave the conference with my first manager," she said. "Once I get a good manager, I will have a better shot at getting signed by a major record label.
"It all depends on which way God moves me."