Mississauga musician remembers lack of Asian singers growing up and hopes to change that

By Karen Longwell

Published on September 12, 2022 at 2:43 p.m.

Photo by Jen Squires

Growing up in Mississauga, indie-folk rock musician Tennyson King didn’t often see lead singers who looked like him.

King, 36, came to Mississauga with his family from Hong Kong when he was six. His grandparents were already living in town.

His first impression of the city was how spacious it was in the early 1990s. He recalls that the area around Mavis and Eglington was still under development – a stark contrast to the busy streets of Hong Kong.

“Coming from Hong Kong, I remember my neighborhood was, we were one of the few houses in the neighborhood, and everything else was just construction,” he tells Sauga. “So I can take my little bike and ride around the dirt fields.”

While he studied classical piano growing up, it wasn’t until high school that he got into rock and indie music. He attended St. Joseph’s High School and started jamming with friends.

“I guess there wasn’t as much to do in the city so we just found things to do and music was definitely one of those things.”

He entered the battle of group competitions and wrote a few songs. Although he studied communications in college, he returned to music because it was something he loved.

It has since toured the world, including Australia and China in 2018 and 2019.

King released his first album, Good company, in January 2022 and touring across Canada. Mississauga is his last stop on the tour.

The city asked him to organize a concert for music week and King saw it as an opportunity to promote other Asian musicians.

“I love discovering and listening to Asian artists…so for me, I was like OK, it would be really cool to share other Asian artists, especially those who are based and raised in Mississauga.”

The concert will take place on Thursday, September 15 at the Mississauga Celebration Square Amphitheater, 300 City Center Dr., and will feature local musicians Arlene Paculan and Sarah Catherine.

Thinking back to his youth in Mississauga, he remembers watching bands at the Masonic Lodge and recalls the lack of diversity.

“I never really saw too many Chinese or Asian artists, especially Asian singers, which I always did, because I always liked to sing and play guitar.”

Although the music scene is diversifying in Canada, there is still a lot to do.

“That’s why, especially with the Thursday show, I’ve curated a pretty much all-Asian lineup,” he says. “I kind of want to start making this a little more normal.”

King is also looking forward to the concert in his hometown.

“I actually don’t play Mississauga too often,” he says. “I’m so excited to be part of the Mississauga Music Week buzz.”

King is also up for several Mississauga Music Awards, including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, on Friday, September 16.

Tickets for the Mississauga Music Week concert featuring Tennyson King on September 15 are $15 and are available here online.

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