City Council recently confirmed Hollis Wong-Wear to a three-year post on the Seattle Music Commission, with an option to renew for three more years. A vocalist, producer, poet, and activist (among other things), Wong-Wear is perhaps best known for singing and writing on the Macklemore hits “White Walls” and “Wing$” and as frontwoman for the slick, melodious R&B/house/pop group the Flavr Blue. She joins other commissioners such as Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper, KEXP’s Tom Mara, Sportin’ Life’s Devon Manier, and One Reel's Jon Stone. I asked Wong-Wear what ideas she wants to champion in her new role. She responds with the sort of thoroughness and cogency that bodes well for her tenure with SMC.
I am grateful to be appointed to the Seattle Music Commission. I honestly believe that it is the unique cultural climate of Seattle, and the communities I am a part of, that catalyzed my identity and work as an artist. I don't think I would be a working musician if I hadn't come up in Seattle, real talk. This is a special place, the opportunities and resources are rich, and I am privileged to channel my experience and understanding of the landscape here in music and nightlife towards representing on this commission.
Initially, I am most passionate about how I can participate and leverage my resources towards supporting the truly transformative Creative Advantage program, understanding that each student enrolled in Seattle Public Schools—not just well-funded schools—deserves access to integrated arts education and arts instruction. Arts education gave me an enormous advantage as a young public school student—I was lucky enough to go to a well-funded school. It gave me the confidence to pursue the arts as an adult. One of my first jobs ever was as a teaching artist and coordinator with Youth Speaks Seattle and Arts Corps, so this work is close to my heart and sense of self. I feel every student has the right for their creativity and narrative to be affirmed and encouraged, and I am excited to participate in the amazing work of the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and Seattle Public Schools, and in particular get my peers in the music and nightlife to feel involved and invested in the initiative.
Overall, I am passionate about artists of all types being given the opportunity to help direct and steward city policy and programming. I do believe we can do better to create meaningful platforms for working artists to be heard, recognized and represented. Seattle's musicians are cultural leaders, and if there's any impact I hope to leave, it's to help shape an environment where a multitude of working musicians identify as civic leaders as well.
This is a positive move for SMC. Wong-Wear offers a smart, progressive, and articulate voice and adds crucial perspective from a woman immersed in the city’s hiphop and electronic communities.