NEIU student makes musical history: Steven Cristi


Courtesy of Kevin Reodica

Steven Cristi also played in events at UIC and around NEIU. He uploads music videos of his orig- inal songs on youtube and Facebook under the name of Steven Cristi.

Rut Ortiz, News Editor

NEIU senior Steven Cristi loves music. The secondary-education major also sings, writes his own lyrics and has won two NEIU talent shows in both a group and as an individual. He won NEIU’s 2017 Talent Show.  

“I think I’ve always been a writer,” Cristi said. “I just didn’t really accept it or really embrace it until I came (to NEIU).”

He remembered first coming to NEIU and wanting to become a history teacher but received encouragement from an English professor to pursue writing in the middle of his freshman year. His professor pulled him out of his English 101 class for a pep talk.

“I didn’t think that would happen in college,” he said with a smile. “I thought I was in trouble.”

As a senior, Cristi is pursuing a minor in creative writing along with his education major although teaching and writing are not his main interests. He comes from family-generations of musicians.

“Music is in my blood on my dad’s side,” he said.

Cristi’s grandfather has his own band in the Philippines during the 1950s and 1960s. He obtained the opportunity to perform in New York.

The rest is musical history.

“His sons and my father, they had their own band and then they came (to Chicago),” he said. “It’s a big part of Filipino culture. We love to singing, dancing and karaokeing.”

Cristi is not an exception. He played piano and saxophone while in junior high and high school. As a young adult he mainly focuses on playing the guitar and his voice.

He described growing up trying to copy the routines of  boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC but admitted that he never took singing seriously because of his high voice in grammar school. However, that only lasted until high school when his brother joined an A cappella group.

“In some funny way I was like, ‘I can sing better than him,’” he said through chuckles. That friendly sibling competitiveness led to him joining the group with his brother.

“We actually got to live the high-school version of ‘Pitch Perfect,’” he said. His experiences with his A cappella group throughout high school were the driving force behind his new pursuit of singing. He said his transition from high school to his first two years at NEIU were tough ones. He came to college not knowing how or where to become involved on campus.

“I would jam out with one of my good friends. I started writing my own music and it hasn’t stopped since. It’s been almost like a year since I started writing.”

Singing and playing music became not just an outlet of self-expression but also worked as a means to cope with the transition.

“Coming into Northeastern, I thought I was supposed to have things figured out already,” he said. “I realized I can be whoever I want to be and continue becoming that person for the rest of my life.”

Cristi said for a moment during his college education he thought that he had to choose between his desire to be a teacher and his love of being a musician.

Despite these doubts, Cristi will begin student teaching and the next chapter of his story. He will be taking his lyrical background with him to his future classroom.

“Music’s going to be part of my life,” he said.