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Surfacing
CASEY DOLAN
February 10, 2007

Turning the spotlight on musicians making a commercial breakthrough.

"Hold On": TYRONE WELLS
Universal Republic
Artist info: Wells has evolved from being the lone singer-songwriter haunting Southland coffeehouses with his soulful voice and acoustic guitar to a guy fronting a band on a slickly produced major label debut that promises to attract pop, modern urban, even country listeners. This kind of hybrid has worked before - Dave Matthews comes to mind - and Wells demonstrates he has the ability to write memorable hooks.

Back story: Wells' father is a preacher and the gospel music he heard around the house in Spokane, Wash., influenced his vocal style deeply. The youngest of five children and the only boy, he felt pushed to achieve early on and began writing songs in junior high and high school. During his college years in Southern California, he landed a residency at a Fullerton coffeehouse, McClain's, that lasted an astonishing three years. The groundswell continued, resulting in sold out shows at the House of Blues, Viper Room, Troubadour and the El Rey, which led to a deal with Universal Republic Records. "What Are We
Fighting For?" is a strong opening salvo; the ballad "Sea Breeze" delivers the emotional wallop that could land him success beyond the regional level.

Influences: Stevie Wonder, Patty Griffin, James Taylor, Damien Rice, Counting Crows

Trivia: Wells battled overwhelming stage fright to get comfortable enough to perform publicly.