Catching Up with Christina Wells (The 2019 Edition)

Singer Christina Wells returned to Jake’s Take to talk about her new single: “Ready or Not.” (Album courtesy of Christina Wells)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome singer-songwriter, Christina Wells, back to Jake’s Take.

The Houston native gained nationwide attention when she auditioned for America’s Got Talent (AGT): Season 13 with a moving rendition of Hairspray’s anthem: “I Know Where I’ve Been.” She received a standing ovation from Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and former AGT judges Mel B and Heidi Klum.  Her AGT journey took her to the Dolby Theatre, where she made it to the Season 13 semifinals.

Since she left AGT, Christina Wells has performed at multiple venues around the country and appeared in several theatrical productions. Recently, she released her first original song, “Ready or Not.” Christina Wells worked with Grammy-winning Billy Dorsey, The Bridge Life’s Telford “Jaytel” Birmingham II, and Flatline Music’s Nick Johnson on this inspirational tune.

In this edition of Catching Up, Christina Wells opened up about her new single and music video, “Ready Or Not,” if she wants to compete on the second season of America’s Got Talent: The Champions and revealed her reaction when a legendary Grammy-winning and Tony-winning performer reached out to her regarding her music video.

Jacob Elyachar: It has been a year since we last corresponded. How did you grow as a performer since we last spoke?

Christina Wells: I do not think that people realize this but when I sang at the Dolby Theatre live, that was the first time I had ever sang for that large of an audience. I had never done anything like that in my life. Now, I have performed all across the United States. In addition to singing, I am also a motivational speaker. I call it: “Motivational Entertainment.” I perform at a lot of schools for children and adults. I am also a nurse, so I have done things where I have been able to talk about music from the medical point of view. My life has changed; in fact, I quit my nursing job in November to pursue my dreams of being a full-time singer.

Christina Wells’ “Ready or Not” is an emotional music video that should be watched by everyone. (Video property of Christina Wells)

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s talk about your new single: “Ready or Not.” What is the story behind the song?

Christina Wells: Once I was cut from AGT on September 12, 2018, I flew home the next day. When I got back, I decided to make a goal. I wanted to have an original song out by June 5, 2019. I chose that date because it marked the first anniversary of my audition. Right now, there are a bunch of new faces that are taking over the world. I cannot only be known as the woman from America’s Got Talent. I want to be a great artist and have original music.  I have been doing a bunch of events and performing other people’s songs. I wanted to also have a song that can state my truth and tell my story.

I ended up meeting a man named Nick Johnson, and he introduced me to Billy Dorsey. Billy is a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer. When we met, Billy asked me: “Well, Christina? What’s your message? What are you trying to say?” I think I had just been waiting so long to get a chance to be like, “Here’s what I want to say in a song,” and in two hours, we worked together. He took my words, made them lyrics, and that’s when “Ready or Not,” was born.

Jacob Elyachar: What were some of the challenges that you and your team faced filming the song’s music video? How did you and your team overcome those obstacles?

Christina Wells: First, I would love to hear your point of view regarding the challenges that my team and I faced.

Jacob Elyachar: One challenge that I believe that you faced was gathering all of the actors and filming the bullying scenes. One aspect of the music video that caught my attention was the football player who bullied one person at the beginning of the video because he is gay but is bullied at the end of the music video because it is revealed that he is in relationship with another man.

Christina Wells: Okay, so let me lay that out for you. First thing I will tell you is originally, whenever we wrote the song, we would say over and over again that this song is supposed to be for the younger version of Christina. One question a lot of people ask me: “What would you say if you could go back time and talk to 19-year-old Christina that got shut down?” One of the things that I would tell a younger version of myself is in the lyrics of the song and remind her of what our mother said to us: “Everyone’s not your friend.” Not everybody wants to see you succeed. I had to learn to accept that I have been such a people pleaser and have accepted peoples’ opinions for so long and allowed it to keep me doing things I want to do. Whenever we decided to do the music video, we originally were like, “Let’s find the young Christina. Let’s recreate some of these moments that have molded me in my life.” Next, we had a casting call.

When we had the casting call, the people that showed up to the casting call, so many of them had such a connection to me. They were like, “Oh my gosh, Christina, and I have such a connection to you because…” Then, they told me about these things that they connected to me based on. “I am short, or I’m too big, or I’m too young…” People always told me I could not do anything, and you made me believe I can.” The director and I looked at each other and I stated: “This is not my story. I am not telling it to young Christina. I am speaking for everyone who has felt this way.” That’s when all of a sudden, these stories began. Since I am not working my 12 hour days like I was as a nurse, I have days where I am working on things from home, and I have started watching the show Glee.

Jacob Elyachar: Glee is a phenomenal show!

Christina Wells: It is a great show. I never watched it while it was on the air before because my kids were smaller, and I was at busy all the time. However, Netflix is now allowing me to catch up on pop culture. I was watching the show, and I noticed the storyline about the football player (Dave Karofsky [Max Adler]) who teased Kurt (Chris Colfer). That is where I came up with this idea that often, the people who are the biggest bullies or who lash out the most it’s because they have something that secretly they are struggling with. It kept coming to me, and it is so true. Those people who are bullies and are mean and hurtful, but they have something hurting them. I wanted to see the bully’s struggle as well.

Another scene in the music video involves a girl shopping and struggling to find clothes that work with her body. She represents my struggle: weight and acceptance of self. Then, I wanted there to be representation for the LGBT community. I am a lesbian, and I wanted to have as much representation as possible. You could see every color in the video. Every shape. Every size. And I realized that this would speak to so many people if one of the mean boys happens to be gay.

The music video’s filming was so smooth, Jacob. At first, we thought it was going to be such a hurdle to jump because we wanted to film the video in one take. Ox Pictures’ David Nguyen shot and directed the music video.  A longtime friend and my photographer, Tasha Gorel, served as the assistant director. They had this concept of filming “Ready or Not” in one take. I initially thought: “This was going to be hard! How are we going to do this in one take?” Also, by the time we started filming the music video, the song was still being finalized. I lip-synched the finalized version of “Ready or Not” when we shot. (Laughs)

Jacob Elyachar: Wow! Talk about cutting it close!

Christina Wells: Both my executive producer and my vocal producer were in the theater, arranging the song. I have a very tight and hard-working team that believes so much in me. Before we shot the video, we did a run-through using a camera phone because we wanted to get a concept of every shot that was happening. Then, we only had to do the actual take of the video. I think we recorded the video nine times. The final video is take four. We were done four hours before schedule. I have never had that happen in my life with anything. I have done a bunch of different music videos, but not on this level, obviously, but a bunch of various productions I have put together where I have created things to have content online. We all are trying to put content for our YouTube and social media. It always either costs more, it’s gone more extended, or someone did not show up, or something did not happen. These actors came to play. They came with characters in their head. They brought clothes of their own to wear so we could pick outfits. The crew and the director were amazing, they used props from the theater to create those little scenes right on the spot. They put in lighting. That set that was there happened to be a set that was used for a different show. It had nothing to do with us. We just figured out a way to make it work. I have never had anything in my life that came together as smoothly and as quickly as the writing of this song and the creation of this music video.

Jacob Elyachar: I am so happy for you, Christina. I hope a lot of people watch this music video.

Christina Wells: Thank you so much. I feel like a lot us do not feel like we have value. Also, we do not feel like we are worthy of love or not worthy of our dreams. I battled with that, especially in my life. I always say, as a mother and a nurse, daughter and a friend, I’ve always felt so confident in who I am as a person, but when it came actually to share my talent and my gift, I still struggled with that and feeling like I’m too fat; I’m too old, and my package is not the right kind of package.

I have learned this past year since my first episode on America’s Got Talent; the world has reached out to me, Jacob. I have received thousands of messages from people telling me that they feel the same way that I do, that they feel just like me and are not good enough, and they don’t all look like me. I thought other people who were also fat, but no. Look at the little star, the girl that was cyberbullied.  Both of us feel the same way, but we look so different. That is when I realized I want to be the voice to help all of these people feel better. If listening to me sing or hearing these words or watching this video can help them feel better about themselves for four whole minutes, then that’s four more minutes that they would have had without it. That makes me happy and excited, and that’s what I want to share.

That’s why this song is so important to me. I was like: I will make dance songs. I’m going to sing about love, I’m sure. I’m sure I’m going to sing about all kinds of stuff later on, but for my very first original song, I want to reach out to all these people who have reached out to me and say, “Come on. You can do this.”

If asked by the AGT: Champions production crew, Christina Wells would definitely participate in the show’s sophomore season. (Logo property of NBC & Syco TV)

Jacob Elyachar: Earlier this year, America’s Got Talent aired the successful spin-off America’s Got Talent: The Champions. NBC announced that it would bring the spin-off back next year for a second season. If the show’s production team asked, would you consider returning to AGT for this special series?

Christina Wells: Oh yes, for sure! I love America’s Got Talent! Honestly, when my single was released, I shared it with a bunch of my friends from the show’s production and the fellow acts that shared the stage with me. All of them are supportive of what I can do. If America’s Got Talent: The Champions producers ask me to participate, I would tell them: “What time and what can a girl wear?”

Jacob Elyachar: Absolutely! I actually published an article of the acts that I would love to see back for America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ second season and you made the list. I was also surprised that neither you nor our mutual friends, the Angel City Chorale, were asked back for the inaugural season. I hope that you two are able to compete in the next season.

Christina Wells: Oh, thank you! I appreciate that. I got a lot of messages from people that thought that I was going to be on the first season as well and my first thought was that they seemed to stick within the confines of acts that had won or were in the top five or ten and since I only made the top twenty. I was not going to say anything, but if they want to have a girl back, this girl’s ready to come sing on that TV again. I am not going to say no to that.

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s get back to your career. Who are your dream collaborators (singers, songwriters, and producers)? How would they enhance your sound?

Christina Wells: I will tell you that Jennifer Holliday messaged me this week because I sent her my video! (Laughs with delight)

Jacob Elyachar: Wow!

Christina Wells: My life began. I think I was born just when that happened — a woman of that caliber, an icon. I have been listening to and singing her music throughout my life. All respect to Jennifer Hudson, but Jennifer Holliday is the Effie White that I grew up with. She said that she loves my songs, my voice, and told me that I was pretty! If I could sing with Jennifer Holliday, I would just be slain to death and die. I am a huge musical theatre fan, and I would die to sing with Cynthia Erivo! I met Cece Penniston recently when both of us were performing at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., we sang “Amazing Grace.” It was another epic moment in my life. I cannot believe the things that I am getting to do. As far as getting to collaborate with people and create music with them, Billy Dorsey, who was essential in helping me create “Ready or Not” is helping me with a larger project. He has helped me find a way to share what I want to say and to share how I want to put all these Christina feelings down on paper and be able to sing them. As far as future collaboration, it is funny because all the people I had always dreamt of singing with when I was young have all passed away. I used to dream of singing with Whitney Houston. I used to dream of singing with Donna Summer. I would lay in bed and be like, “If only I could sing with this person.” I would also love to sing with Demi Lovato. I know it sounds like a surprising choice, but people ask me: “Who do you warm up to?” or “Who do you sing with in your spare or private time?” I sing Demi Lovato. I have a playlist, and I listen to Demi Lovato all day. If I met her or sang with her, I would lay on the floor and pass out.

Jacob Elyachar: I believe you and Demi would record a fantastic collaboration!

Christina Wells: Right? We would be power belting. I can belt up there, but she belts a solid two or three notes higher than I do. One of my favorite songs by her is “Skyscraper.” She belts so up there; it is epic!

Jacob Elyachar: “Skyscraper” is a fantastic song, but I would also love to see you two sing “Stone Cold.”

Christina Wells: Yes! “Stone Cold” is sick.

Jacob Elyachar: Absolutely!

Christina Wells: I love a power singer and a big voice. I have such a massive voice, and I have always felt like it was too massive, and I needed to make it smaller, and now that I feel acceptance for my voice.

Jacob Elyachar: We just past 2019’s halfway point. What can my readers expect from you as the year marches to a close?

Christina Wells: I am working on my album and also writing a children’s book! Also, I do not know if you know this, but I am also well known for my dresses. I make all of my dresses. I have an Instagram page for my dresses @ChristinaWellsFashion, and I am currently working on a fashion line, a plus-sized women’s fashion line.

For more information about Christina, visit her website. You can also connect with Christina on social media.  Visit her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar