Higher Rock Music


by John DeGroff

Jazz and Christian music is yet another combination that seems unlikely at first. But like any style of music used for ministry, the real issue is the integrity and attitude of the performer. DavidWells, a gifted flugel horn and trumpet player, embodies both talent and a heart for ministry, and has been able to develop an extremely busy and diverse career.

David began playing at the age of nine, and by 13, he had his professional debut. He counts as his influences Louis Armstrong and Herb Albert and The Tijuana Brass. He has just released his eighth solo album, "Skyline", on Nuance Records. Previous releases include:"The Day Of" (2000); "This Is My Father's World" (2001); "Ephesians 5:19" (2002); "David Wells With Anthony Burger" (2004); "America'sChristmas" (2006); "More Love, More Power" (2007); and "Friday Afternoon" (2008). He has also recorded with his father, Stan Wells,on the album "What A Wonderful Life".

It was the album "More Love, More Power", which contains the tune"Strawberry Letter #23", that put David's career into a national spotlight. The tune charted at #10 on national jazz charts in 2007.The album itself reached as high as #13 on jazz album charts. His holiday single, "Deck The Halls", hit #1 as the most added song on smooth jazz stations nationwide.

In addition to concerts, and extensive radio air play, he has performed for the Cincinnati Reds and the Columbus Blue Jackets on ESPN2. He has also been featured on the BET network's television show Studio Jams.

David has been gracious enough to submit to an interview for Higher Rock Music, and we're extremely thankful for his time.

Higher Rock Music: You mention on your web site that you started playing at age 9. did you have any formal training after that?

David: I had lessons in junior high and high school, and some private lessons at age 10. I had to practice twice as much because I wasn't gifted like anyone else. I majored in trumpet performance at Oral Robert University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I started thinking seriously about playing professionally probably my first year in college. I thought that when I got done with college, I was going to go ahead and play full time. But, I had a variety of "secular" jobs along the way. It wasn't until several years later...it was like an immediate jump...going from a"secular" job into a full time traveling player.

HRM: Your tune, "Strawberry Letter #23", part of "More Love, More Power", was originally an indie production. Was the success of this what lead to the deal with Nuance?

David: Yes, as a matter of fact it did. It was with the help of a radio promoter out of L.A. with Peer Pressure Promotions. They were the ones who recommended that I put a bonus track on the end of "More Love, More Power". When I did that it sort of set the ground work for my relationship with the radio stations from then on. What's funny with the radio stations is that if you have a little bit of success at first, they'll keep playing you unless you come out with a bunch of crap. Everything's done on relationships.

 HRM: You do a combination of church gigs and things like jazz festivals, right?

David: During the summer we do more churches. During the remainder of the year we do other venues. Because of our work with Chocolate Jazz, we do school assemblies. We probably spend more time with that than anything else.

HRM: Well. then let's talk about Chocolate Jazz...

David: It's a fundraiser for public high school, used to bring money to the school's music program. I go into the school a few day before the actual concert and do motivational type assemblies, in which the Chocolate Jazz event is promoted. The night of the concert, the local high school band and/or their jazz band plays. I also do a few numbers. There are chocolate fountains and good coffee available.Ticket sales to back to the school music program. What we've done recently is to look more for corporate sponsors ona national basis. We've also been working with churches because a lotof churches want to reach out to the school. What I do is that if achurch wants to sponsor an event, the only commitment that a churchh as is to sell 50 tickets. The church then becomes the sponsor of the event.

HRM: By being a jazz musician, have you received criticism from the Christian community?

David: (...laughs at first...) I receive criticism from both, from the secular side and Christian. It was one of those genres where you're "damned if you do/damned if you don't". You have to walk lightly on either stand. As a Christian, I don't go out there and start preaching to people. I live through my actions and look for opportunities. I will say this...I will not leave a concert until I play "Amazing Grace". About 75-80% of the time, we get a standing ovation.

HRM: You've worked with your father Stan on his album "What A Wonderful World". You've also worked together on the road for a bit. Any plans for further work?

David: Probably not. When Dad was on board, it wasn't too hard getting dates. Dad sang and also played piano. I was able to get into more Churches with him than without him. Now, he works as an advance man for some of the Chocolate Jazz events.

HRM: What advice would you give to other musicians?

David: Never depend on somebody to get something done. You always have to do it yourself. You get to a certain level and it's funny how people come out of the woodwork and they want to be a part of everything. Also, don't give up. It's so easy to give up. You might be down a day or two because of bad news. You've always got to get back up and keep going. Always depend on you to get things done.

(Author's Note: For more information about David, the Chocolate Jazz events, or to order David's albums, please check out his web site atwww.davidwellsonline.com)



Organization Successfully Completes Missions in Johannesburg, Swaziland, Malawi and Jamaica

Plans are underway for a fundraiser event to be held in October

(New York, NY - August 17, 2009) -- Global Soles, a not-for-profit organization based in Brooklyn, New York, is scheduled to bring its 2009 footwear initiative to Haiti, in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The organization's goal is to distribute 5,000 pairs of shoes to families and individuals prior to the Thanksgiving holiday season. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with high rates of HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, unemployment, poverty and numerous problems affecting the public safety of its residents such as severe weather conditions, hurricanes and natural disasters. On Thursday, November 19, a group of missionaries will arrive in Port-au-Prince and will begin distributing footwear on Friday, November 20, Saturday, November 21 and Sunday, November 22. Prior to the mission trip, Global Soles is planning a fundraiser event to be held in October where all attendees will be required to bring a product donation and/or make a monetary contribution (further details are forthcoming)

Haiti was selected as a location for this year's initiative following a trip to the country by Global Soles founder, Rotimi Akinnuoye in February 2007. While on a medical mission, Akinnuoye along with Dr. Marcel Benoit, founder and President of Doc Tee Time and other medical professionals provided medical treatment for over 100 patients per day for four days. Most of the patients who were treated had no shoes. They walked barefoot on dirt roads and were exposed to all kinds of bacteria, due to rusty metals and glass, urine, feces and contaminated water. And as a result of these problems, potential medical conditions can lead to acute infections, including gangrene and sometimes amputations. It was clear to Akinnoye that the need for footwear was great and necessary. "Our goal at Global Soles is to provide 5,000 pairs of shoes to the children and adults living in the poorest slums of Haiti," states Akinnoye. "By providing them with shoes, we hope to prevent and reduce any medical incidents that can arise from walking barefoot. We look forward to a successful trip in November and continuing the organization's mission in Haiti for years to come." Global Soles is requesting NEW footwear ONLY for children and adults including sneakers, black dress shoes, rain and casual boots for work, school, church and play. Socks are also needed for this mission.

Born on a mission trip to South Africa in August 2007, the vision of Global Soles was conceived by Akinnuoye, while visiting the country with his church, Emmanuel Baptist Church of Brooklyn, New York (Rev. Anthony L. Trufant, Senior Pastor). One year later in August 2008, Global Soles successfully completed its inaugural mission in Johannesburg, South Africa and Swaziland. The small group of missionaries visited and distributed shoes to the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society in Soweto, coordinated by Dr. Nobs of COPES-SA. The next day, they all traveled to Swaziland and handed out shoes to the people of that community at St. Paul Church.

In addition to the various mission trips planned by Global Soles, the organization participates in various shoe donations. In 2009, two shoe offerings were made in Malawi and Jamaica. In February, Global Soles partnered with the Carousel Children Center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and provided 400 pairs of shoes to the children of the Malawi community. And in May, the organization provided 200 pairs of children shoes to a community-based group in Jamaica.

Global Soles is a 501(c) 3 organization that solicits footwear and monetary contributions from individuals, groups, churches, faith-based organizations, non-profits, fraternities and sororities, corporations, community groups, and educational institutions. For monetary contributions all checks should be made out to: Global Soles, Inc. and mailed to Rotimi Akinnuoye, 248 Clifton Place, Brooklyn, New York 11216.

For additional information on Global Soles, please visit www.globalsoles.org.

Product donations can also be shipped via mail to:
Self Storage America
c/o Rotimi Akinnuoye
45 Clinton Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11205

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