The Workhorse: Hollis Wong-Wear

Age 25 
Neighborhood Capitol Hill 
Hometown Petaluma, Calif. 
Last book read Safe As Houses by Marie-Helene Bertino 
Go-to karaoke song “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal 
Personal hero My mama 
Favorite place in Seattle The Station Café, Beacon Hill

Hollis Wong-Wear is in town for two days. She’s been touring the Midwest with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, adding her crisp, clear vocal to their Cadillac homage “White Walls,” a track on the duo’s breakout album, The Heist. She first worked with them as a producer on the 2011 video “Wings and a lasting collaboration ensued.

“I traipse between mediums and callings,” she says.

The consummate hyphenate—Wong-Wear is not only a singer-producer, she’s also a poet, rapper, manager and actor—came to Seattle in 2005 as a recipient of the prestigious Sullivan Leadership Award and a four-year scholarship at Seattle University. She quickly established herself in the local slam poetry scene.

“I have a joy for words,” she says. “Whether that’s writing up a production book for a music video or it’s writing a song or it’s writing an email for a press release, writing is fundamentally my calling.”

Building on her spoken-word roots, in 2006 Wong-Wear co-founded the hip-hop duo Canary Sing, which has since played hundreds of shows.

“Canary Sing embodies a lot of things that I stand for as an artist and as a human being: female empowerment, youth empowerment, solidarity with women of color—and making hip-hop something positive and powerful,” she says.

Today she also plays keys and sings with electropop trio the Flavr Blue, which released a new album titled Pisces this past August, and the soul group the Heartfelts. And she’s been managing the Blue Scholars since 2010.

This February, Wong-Wear will return to musical theatre for the first time since high school, starring in the new Seattle ladies-of-rock musical These Streets. She also plans to record and produce her first solo album, a confluence of her many talents, rooted in thoughtful solidarity and community empowerment. 

Photo by Dylan Priest. Return to the complete Future List.

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