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Arts & Culture(Archives)


King Deng: The Dream Never Dies

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It’s no secret that people come here from every corner of the world to pursue their dreams, while adapting to the landscape they find themselves in. It shouldn’t be that unusual to find 28-year-old hip-hop artist, King Deng (Deng Alith), pursuing his dreams here as well.

Born in the county of Jonglei State, in what is now South Sudan, during a civil war that lasted throughout the 1980s and 90s, killing roughly 2 million people, Deng Alith missed out on childhood. His first war experience was as a young boy in 1991, when he witnessed the murder of his father, and of many others he knew and loved.

Alith survived most of a decade of war in South Sudan, and then moved to Khartoum in Sudan in 1997, hoping to find a better life. Instead, military conscription awaited him and he had to find safety in Egypt. Finally, at approximately 17 years old, he moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he was able to attend Gordon Bell High School and graduate when he was 22.

The age of 17 is an estimate of how old he was when he came to Canada, as he has no original documentation of his birth, being born in a Dinka Bor village in a war-torn country.

During high school, he nurtured his love of music, taking band classes and singing in choir. Alith’s style and ability evolved while performing in venues such as his high school coffee house.

Now he is studying social work at Keyano College, working at Moxie’s Grill and Bar, and pursuing his dreams in music.
“Most musicians wish to make it big in a big city, but me, I’d like to make it big in a small city. Fort McMurray became an inspirational city for me,” said Alith. “I feel like it’s a city of dreams coming true for me.”

Eighteen months ago, Alith arrived in Fort McMurray, and soon after, his resume passed across the desk of Mike Lindberg, executive chef at Moxie’s in Fort McMurray. Alith had worked for Lindberg in Winnipeg years before, and the small world of Wood Buffalo crossed their paths again.

Lindberg has high praise for the man he’s known since Alith’s younger “street days.”

“He’s obviously been fairly successful and moving his way up. It’s nice to see someone you’ve coached and mentored for years succeed,” said Lindberg.

Lindberg described Alith’s passion as infectious; his bright smile and positive personality motivates those around him.
In regards to Alith’s work ethic, he added, “The guy doesn’t stop unless you ask him to. He’s always been a guy I could rely on for anything, really.”

Upon coming to Fort McMurray, Alith realized that education could help expand his musical horizons and lift him to another level. Social work was attractive to Alith, who wants to help people get through life’s challenges, as he’s been through a fair share of his own. Being able to express the pain he’s had in the past, the credibility of his education will help him become a better artist.

“I’m a person who’s dedicated, and I want to achieve a lot of things in life,” explained Alith, who has already achieved so much.

Holding on to no excuses that could have been born of his struggles, he released his first album, The Big Dream in Winnipeg, in March 2010. Available on iTunes, the album includes a title track rich with pride in his Sudanese heritage and his pursuit of a dream that “is never going to fail.”

Other tracks like Freedom speak of a desire for equality and fairness with a strong sense of urgency. War Life opens as a tribute to those he lost in the war, specifically his father.

King Deng is already experiencing a certain level of success in Wood Buffalo, being ranked number one within Fort McMurray on in the genres of R&B, soul, hiphop, and rap, with more than 1,500 song plays. Check him out at

As a youth, Alith not only had to overcome the effects of war, but learn a new language and culture once he arrived in Canada. Never a defeatist, he has overcome those things which initially limited him. Based on his experience, he wants to teach kids that they can succeed and never to give up on their dreams.

“The dream will never die, it is only the dreamer who will die,” Alith proclaimed with passion, adding that patience is his motto, and claiming this is what will allow him to achieve what is in his heart.

War has no doubt left a mark on his life, but confidence and endurance continue to add resolve to the pursuit of King Deng’s dreams.

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