Back to Tyrone Wells R&B meets country with a dash of pop

Nancy Dunham, The Examiner
Apr 18, 2007 3:00 AM

Annapolis - It’s easy to read Tyrone Wells’ song “What Are We Fighting For?” as another anti-Iraq War anthem.

But that would be a mistake, Wells said of the song from his latest CD “Hold On.” While the song does address war and other negatives, it is as much pro-love as anti-violence, he said.

“I was watching the news and was just overwhelmed with all the death,” he said of the song. “And as I wrote the song, it started to take on its own life. I was thinking about people, communication and loving each other and then the rest of it just came out.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Wells takes the time to genuinely reflect on the world condition. A preacher’s son who was raised in Spokane, Wash., Wells was encouraged to listen primarily to the deep messages from gospel. But Wells did slip in more than the occasional pop song on his personal play lists, which compelled him to take a turn at songwriting while still in middle school.

Wells passion for songwriting hit full stride when he attended college in Southern California. Desperate to have his sound heard, he independently produced three albums and persuaded a local coffee house owner to make him a regular. The one-month gig turned into a three-year run which drew larger and larger crowds.

“I was selling records independently by doing things in a really grassroots fashion,” he said. “I could see the growth, and that was exciting to me.”

By early last year, Wells was regularly selling out Los Angeles clubs including House of Blues, The Viper Room and The El Rey Theatre. Now signed with Universal Republic Records, Wells is touring fulltime promoting his latest release.

This tour may well indicate if Wells can become another hybrid-hit maker. For now, he’s pleased to just expose his music to larger audiences.

“Whether I’m in a coffee shop … or on a national tour, I’m grateful to be doing what I love,” he said.