Her career as a registered nurse spans 14 years, and that of hers as a mother nearly 20. Now, Christina Edwards Wells is belting out the anthem of her newest path in live – a powerhouse musician and America’s Got Talent contestant.
As we stood outside of Jenni’s Noodle House in the Heights, group photos ready to be taken of each of our featured community members, Christina Edwards Wells strolled outside in her dazzling, blue, peek-a-book, sequined gown looking like the very thing she is: a star. Even in the murderous heat of June, the former Pride SuperStar looked like she’d just stepped off a red carpet. But more impressive was when Wells opened her mouth to speak to her peers and fellow community members. Even with those she’d never met, it would have seemed as though Christina had known them all her life.
Sporting a tiny, rainbow flag in her photos, Christina posed with such a natural grace and humility. Her face beamed as she was asked questions about her recent appearance on America’s Got Talent, though she held her lips tight, unable to share any information about the then-forthcoming episode in which she would blow audiences, even bringing Simon Cowell to his feet in applause. Her after-glow was still strong, but Christina had a few things to take care of before she’d be seen on TV.
After our photo shoot Saturday, Christina would make an appearance at a fundraiser a Guava Lamp. There, she sang a mash-up of “This Is Me” from the Greatest Showman and the song of the same name from Camp Rock, followed by her new single, “Come Hell or High Water,” which Wells’ co-wrote with Kirk Coombs about the resilience of her home city after Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, Wells has been preparing for her band’s upcoming show at Fitzgerald’s in the Heights. Still, in the midst of all the business – which included a viewing party for her episode of AGT – Christina made time to sit down with About Magazine and talk about all the blessings she’s currently living with.
About Magazine: I feel like it’s been such a long time since I’ve seen you.
Wells: I know. What was that? Saturday? Oh–no! It was Sunday, at Guava Lamp.
Oh, yeah. Because we both sang in the fundraiser. I don’t know how I’ve forgotten about that. So, how are you doing? You were so good on Tuesday. I cried.
Aw, thank you. I appreciate that. I am so good. I’m so happy. I’m just very, very, very grateful.
I was watching and thinking to myself that it’s so surreal to know the person who is up there [on TV] blowing away all of these people in this giant auditorium. I just thought it was incredible to watch you. We’ve seen you do that in Houston 100 times. But to watch you do that was just awesome.
Thank you. I appreciate that. The well-wishes of the entire city has been amazing.
It was amazing! It was all of my communities. You know. Like … I have a lot of different groups of people that follow me for different reasons–all for singing, but in different places. And I just wanted for everyone to get together and I wanted to be present for them and for to let them know that I appreciate all the shares and the likes and the follows and the tickets that they buy and the shows the drive to see, and the applause, and the love, and the consistent support. And I wanted to do that [party] so they could have dinner with me, and hang out with me, and watch the show together.
I think the way you’re giving back to your fans is really incredible.
It’s really important to me.
I think that that shows. And it’s not just when you’re around people, but also when you’re singing. There’s something so humble about you that’s so evident. But what was it like to see yourself on TV like that?
I always see myself as two people. One of those people is the nurse, the mom, the woman who goes day-to-day. I work; I take care of my friends and family–just my normal life. And then inside of me is this little diva. And she wants to sing and to perform and belt, but she doesn’t always get an opportunity–I’m sorry. This is going to make me cry. [Pause] She has wanted to sing for so many people for so long. So, whenever I was watching it Tuesday, I was like, “You’re getting your opportunity.” She’s finally getting her chance to do it. And [sniffles] I was so happy for her. [Voice cracks]. Because she always has to be so patient. I’m always like […] you have to wait. So, to see her get to be her full self, I was so happy and excited. I know that may sound weird, but …
How much of what you just said is kind of a parallel for you being an LGBTQ woman–woman of color, at that–who gets to be her whole self and be out there in the world for people to see to be this unabashed, unapologetic person?
Exactly. It’s the truth. It’s the same concept. So many times, especially in our professional world, we have to leave labels outside the door. And we have to go into our professional world […] and just get along. So many times, that’s what life is about–it’s about getting along. And I think in those moments when you get to really and truly and authentically be yourself [sic]–for me, is it being gay? Is it being half-black-half-white? Is it being obese? Is it wanting to be a performer at the age of 42? Any of those are finally at a crossroads and I’m getting to truly do all of it. Do you know what I mean?
I think that’s so inspiring, especially for people in our community. And it’s something that they really need to hear. What’s it been like waiting up until this moment to see yourself on America’s Got Talent? I know there are a lot of things you can’t talk about, but what can you tell us about what we’re going to see?
Well, I can’t really tell you anything. I can tell you that Tuesday is an amazing culmination of going and doing this thing and you hope and pray that it’s going to be what you thought it was. But you have to leave it where it was, and you just have to keep going forward. But Tuesday was one of those moments were it was what I hoped it was. People have been sending me so many pictures and messages and letters and notes. And they’re saying, “I see you; and your very presence on that stage is telling me I can do it too.” And nothing makes me happier than to know that I can help other people A) feel better, and B) feel inspired to do them. Be you in this world. Everyone else is already taken.
That’s so true. And it goes into your [Greatest Showman] “This Is Me” video from a little while back, which you sang at this past Sunday mashed up with “This is Me” from Camp Rock, which I thought was so cool. I just came out of my skin and I was singing it in Spanish along with you, because for some reason, I taught myself that version of it in high school.
[Laughs] I love it!
I think that song is the perfect example of what you just said–about being yourself.
When that movie came out, my inbox filled with messages in December. And people were like, “You’re the bearded lady, you’re the bearded lady, you’re the bearded lady.” So, I was just like, “Okay […] let me find out what that means.” Then, when I saw it, I realized people wanted me to sing this anthem for them. That’s what they wanted. I am very blessed, and I know my singing is a gift from God. And I’m very blessed that I have this thing that allows me to express a message through music. And “This Is Me” has a message from it. And the “This Is Me” from Camp Rock is one of my favorite songs. It has a message to me, as well, personally. Because she’s saying, “I know I can be on that stage if you just give me a chance […] and if you let me up there, I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be.” […] So, it wasn’t that I just thought they were two cool songs to mash together. It is truly what I believe in, too. Kirk Combs [co-writer of Wells’ “Come Hell or High Water”] helped me arrange that song, along with Alli Villines.
Maybe this comes from coming into music in your 40s–because you’ve been a nurse for years. Correct? I mean that’s something you’ve devoted your life to.
Yeah. 14 years of being a nurse and 20 years of being a mom.
Yeah, so you’ve devoted your entire adult life to taking care of people. Tell me a little bit about how that translates into your music. Because one thing I’ve noticed about your music is that it’s so filled with exactly what you’re feeling and your voice that it sort of takes care of people, in some way.
Well, I always say that when I walk into a patient’s room, I have an audience of one.
[Laughs] True! But like I said, you taking on music as a more full-time part of your trade at the age of 42, you have more wisdom about it [music].
No, I think 20-year-old Christina was a little more selfish and was worried about what she wanted to do and her dreams. And when it didn’t happen, she was devastated. But 42-year-old Christina knows […] that when you learn coping mechanisms and how to have good relationships, you really know how to have a good life. And, so I try to use that in everything that I do every single day.
It’s been such a blessing for me to get to spend the short time together the last few days that I’ve gotten to spend with you. So, I wanna know if there’s anything you’d like to say to your fans–a message you’d like to give to them.
I think the biggest thing I’d like to say to anyone who follows me […] is that there are no rules when it comes to your dreams. […] It’s what I tell myself every day.
[Laughs] Apparently it’s been working out for you.
[Laughs] Yeah! It’s been working! It’s been working pretty good! [Laughs].
You can buy tickets to the performance of the Christina Wells Band at Fitzgerald’s here.