Penny Wells

Penny Wells is a singer whose time to shine has come. Wells’ road to a professional singing career has been long, and at times difficult, but her 2004 debut, "Shine" clearly represents a personal and musical triumph for this exceptionally talented singer/songwriter.

The Detroit native started her introduction to music with the violin as a child, and later started singing with youth choirs at her church. Wells earned her first professional singing gig performing at local hotels while still a teenager. The job, although steady, left the singer exhausted from the rigorous schedule, and the smoke-filled rooms and loud music she was forced to compete with damaged her vocal chords. This sidelined Wells for a while, but she eventually began singing again and started making a name for herself around Detroit. In 2000, she competed in a talent contest at a local radio station and was voted “Unsigned Artist of the Month” for April of that year. This led to her first single, “Free to Walk Away,” receiving some airplay, and more live performances, including singing backgrounds for artists like Kem, and opening for The Temptations and Dwele.

Wells’ debut record, Shine is a superb smooth jazz set, nicely displaying Wells’ rich, hearty voice against super pianist Al Mackenzie’s skills on keys. Throughout the record, Wells’ gorgeous voice elevates uptempo R&B grooves, piano-driven jazz numbers, and soulful ballads. Highlights of this impressive debut include “Fertile Ground,” a strikingly warm and moving song, the jazzy, uptempo tune “Superman,” and the divine title track. Also included is “Free to Walk Away,” a beautiful, midtempo song that fits in nicely with Wells’ newer material.

Wells spoke recently about her debut record, her musical partnership with Al Mackenzie, and singing the national anthem before a worldwide audience.

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