Early 20th century Chicago was a grimy place. From a town of a hundred people, the city reached a population of over two million, and this resulted in filth, smoke pollution, faulty sanitation, and street congestion that was dangerous for pedestrians. Living conditions were dreadful. Despite all this, the city’s leading architect and planner still wrote, “City life has attractions that make a strong appeal to human nature. Opportunities for wealth and power and social consideration, for amusement and instruction, for the increase of knowledge and the cultivation of taste, are greater for the average person in the city than in the country.” This architect, named Daniel Burnham, believed it should come as no surprise that the city constantly drew “young men and women of ambition and self-reliance, who are lured [to the city] by the great prizes … open to the competition of all.” But, what happens when an ambitious young woman, a perfect match to Burnham’s profile, decides to renounce the “great prizes” of the city to move back home to an Island in the Pacific?
Christiana Galea’i is an American Samoan singer and song-writer who was set to “make it” in Chicago, but she didn’t stay in the city, choosing to turn down a record deal to move back home to be with her people. Her dream was to inspire young musicians to produce excellent music right from the island, proving that Samoa has something precious to contribute to the global community. Christiana’s costly decision reaped unimaginable reward. She’s inspired, enabled, and supported several budding artists who are now producing music of their own, making something new and good of the global city. Listen to this World Outspoken Feature to learn more about enabling culture-making musicians who are already telling a new story about the world.
Christiana Galeaʻi is an independent artist and creative writer who focuses perspectives of small island nations. Originally from Taʻū, American Samoa, she grew up traveling to places with different cultures from urban Japan, sunny California, and rural Alaska. These experiences inform her production of songs and writings that share native narratives from an authentic point of view. After studying music and biblical studies at the Moody Bible Institute, Christiana returned to her Polynesian home to teach. She continues her travels as an events coordinator that encourages local communities to share their unique stories. Christiana is an active member of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa and has a desire to see loving reform amongst its members. Aside from public speaking and artist collaboration, she enjoys ice cream. Her favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip, but it depends on the mood! You may find her latest creations at christianagaleai.com.
- Sections of this article are from Seeking Zion: The Gospel and The City We Make, written by Emanuel (Ricky) Padilla. 2017. Quotes of Daniel Burnham are from his 1909 Plan of Chicago. Citation: Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett, Plan of Chicago, First Edition (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1993), 2pg. 33.