Grammy-nominated jazz musician brings anti-bullying message to schools
BARBOURSVILLE — Any musician of any experience would look at an annual nine-month, 150-stop tour with a sense of weariness.
But for Grammy-nominated David Wells, it’s a deeply rooted labor of love expressed poignantly at each performance through the dulcet notes of his trumpet.
The decorated smooth jazz artist brought his tour to Village of Barboursville Elementary School on Friday afternoon, sharing his mission’s message against bullying interwoven into his music.
“No school wants to have bullying issues, but it happens all the time — there are kids bullied every day of the school year,” said Wells, a Dallas native now based in Vienna, West Virginia, who himself was bullied in his childhood. “Today is about prevention, and we do that to keep it under control.”
It’s estimated 1 in 3 students are bullied every day of the school year, and 1 in 5 students do the bullying. More than 160,000 students are estimated to not go to school for fear of being bullied.
A full-time musician and concert promoter by trade, Wells nonetheless spends around 90 percent of his time during the school year performing in schools with his message — sometimes four to six assemblies a week.
The tour is part of Wells’ nonprofit Chocolate Jazz Foundation, which provides the performances at no cost to schools.
Friday’s show was sponsored by nearby Steele Memorial United Methodist Church in Barboursville.
Wells has been living his dream of a career in music. At the age of 9, Wells began learning the flugelhorn and trumpet, with his professional debut at the age of 13.
Heavily influenced by Louis Armstrong and Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, Wells evolved into an instrumental soloist with the capability of reaching his audiences on an intimate level, and has since recorded 15 albums.
A room full of third-, fourth-and fifth-graders seemed like an odd audience for a smooth jazz performer, and Wells admitted the genre wasn’t to everyone’s taste. That fact was instead used to the show’s advantage.
“No matter what your gift or talent is, you can always be successful,” Wells said.
Wells next travels to perform at schools in Tazewell, Virginia.