Words: Ernest Wilkins

Photos: Zoe Rain

The UNITE stories go deeper on Jordan Brand’s new film series celebrating the power of basketball culture. UNITE is a rallying cry for inspiring and empowering the next generation to never fly alone.

Growing up in Chicago, Christine “King” Marie was surrounded by music; her mother was a singer, who filled the house with rap and disco music, and her brothers were DJs. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Christine left home at age 19 to become a singer herself. Though she gained traction in New York City, there were very real obstacles — writer’s block and the fatigue of non-stop hustle, among them.

At the time, DJing was one of Christine’s many side hustles. Feeling worn down by NYC, she moved to L.A., started over again and became a DJ full time. She did well there and got some high-profile touring gigs, too. Even then, L.A. didn’t quite *feel* right. With her creative tank on empty, Christine decided to go home to Chicago, and that’s when she fully hit her stride.

Everything about Chicago inspires me, whether it’s the people in the city or the music and art from the city,” says Christine. “Everything about Chicago makes me who I am, and I’m forever grateful for that.”

Returning to Chicago and re-gaining her support system helped Christine, now 27, get in front of the mic again, too. Earlier this summer, she released her first EP, The Prelude, a project that has the hip-hop, R&B and dance influences from her youth. Christine credits Chicago’s collaborative spirit with motivating her to keep going and build the community further.

“I write music to uplift people, based on my own experiences, and hopefully I can give someone a piece of hope,” says Christine, who also does community outreach through various organizations. “Working in a team environment means everything to me. My friends and I constantly inspire each other to be better. To me, being able to learn, in general, is the creative process. You can never stop learning from others in the pursuit of becoming a better artist.”

Learn more about UNITE here and look forward to more stories in the coming months.