Wells collaborated on the lyrics with Grammy-winning gospel singer Billy Dorsey. They had only just met at SugarHill Recording Studios the day they started writing. The final product was released a year to the day after Wells auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” and made it to the semifinals.
“Ready or Not” is a soulful ballad about reclaiming your self-worth and embracing your flaws. The video’s multiple storylines follow suit.
“We sat down on the couch, and Billy asked me, ‘What do you wanna say? What’s your message?’” Wells recalls. “I just tell him, it presses inside of my brain, having to remind myself that I don’t have to change who I am or be less than I am in order to be loved and cared about and accepted.”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pride Parade, downtown Houston
Admission: free, VIP tickets available; pridehouston.org
That’s the same message the vocalist espoused last year during her run on “America’s Got Talent.” She balanced power ballads with messages of body positivity and loving yourself. Creator and judge Simon Cowell told Wells she was the reason he created shows such as “America’s Got Talent,” because he “worked with so many stupid people in the music business, genuinely, who actually think someone’s gonna buy a song because of somebody’s weight.”
The former registered nurse earned a standing ovation after her powerhouse audition with “Hairspray” tune “I Know Where I’ve Been.” She emotionally recounted an audition for AstroWorld’s variety shows in the mid-’90s, when she was told she wasn’t the right size and didn’t have the right look.
In “AGT,” Wells found an outlet for her talent and her pain, connecting with fans and would-be singers across the country who didn’t match the physical ideals set by today’s pop stars.
Since the show, Wells has performed across the country, sung with Idina Menzel at a Theater Under The Stars gala and belted the national anthem at a Rockets playoff game. She had her own float in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade and was part of a lineup at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade that included Todrick Hall, “black-ish” star Anthony Anderson and “Finally” singer CeCe Peniston.
“Ready or Not” makes its debut less than two months after Wells’ first meeting with Dorsey and after bouts of teary confessions. It’s an extension of the story she began telling on “AGT.”
“He literally took sentences I said. ‘People always say I’m too much, too big, too loud.’ You can hear me saying that,” Wells says. “I was dumbstruck when he sent me the lyrics.”
One line, in particular — “I won’t be a prisoner to your insecurities” — resonates deeply with her.
“It encompasses everything about my life. You wanna try something, you wanna do something, but people said you couldn’t do it. You believe them, and then you stop trying,” Wells says.
“People are trapped inside their own insecurities, and when they see you doing something, that makes them think it’s possible, gives them a little hope, their insecurities have to work extra hard to pull them back down. When that happens, they immediately try to do that to you.”
She’s working on a full album with the same “power pop” vibe but promises some uptempo stuff, too. Anyone who saw Wells win the local Pride Superstar competition in 2016 knows she can slay some choreography.
But right now, Wells hopes people receive her message, ready or not.
“Sometimes confidence has to be borrowed before you can find it for yourself,” Well says. “If you can borrow my confidence for four minutes and 11 seconds and it helps you figure that out for yourself, that’s what I want.”