(Posted Sept. 5, 2019)
By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer
David Wells, a jazz instrumentalist from West Virginia, will perform his Chocolate Jazz Concert on Sept. 15 at Newport United Methodist Church. The event includes music and a variety of chocolate desserts.
Wells, whose stage name is Dave Bond, has shared the stage with top artists in the “smooth jazz” genre. He performs Chocolate Jazz concerts to help fund his non-profit Chocolate Jazz Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to educate everyone, especially children, about bullying. Wells was bullied when he was in school, so he knows the pain children experience at the hands of bullies in school and on social media.
“I held my first Chocolate Jazz Concert in Canada,” Wells said. “It’s been my focus for the past four years.”
When Wells performed in central Ohio several years ago, he reached out to area churches to ask if they would welcome a concert. Wayne Stuntz, currently the pastor at Newport United Methodist Church, invited Wells to perform at the church where he was pastor at the time. The two have remained friends for the past 15 years.
“Dave is a gifted performer and a Christian who truly cares,” Stuntz said. “He played at my daughter’s wedding, and we even discovered he is a distant relative of my son-in-law.”
The work Wells does on behalf of children touched Stuntz’s heart. Stuntz has counseled children who come to him to talk about how they have been bullied.
“Bullying is so prevalent through social media, and it’s harder there, I think, because bullies can say whatever they want, and they don’t have to do it face-to-face,” he said. “It’s easier to hide behind a profile because they can be anonymous.”
At the age of 9, Wells began learning to play flugelhorn and trumpet, and he made his professional music debut at the age of 13. Wells was raised in Dallas, Texas. His dad is a Baptist minister, and he has seven brothers and sisters.
“I went to a school where all the kids had nice clothes and cars. Our family wasn’t as fortunate, and the kids made fun of my appearance,” Wells said. “I didn’t fit in, and it got so bad that I left school, got a job, and paid for my own private schooling.”
Bullying didn’t stop just because Wells grew up. Even after successfully releasing 15 solo projects, charting 12 singles in the Top 20 on the national jazz charts, creating a nationally syndicated weekly radio show in 50 different markets across the country, and becoming a Nashville promoter, he still endures bullying on social media for speaking out against it.
And Wells isn’t the only person in his family who has been bullied.
“My daughter got bullied in high school,” he said. “To hear the stories of the kids who’ve been bullied breaks your heart.”
He talked to another parent at a doctor appointment, and she told him her child saw another child being bullied at his school, and when he went to the principal to report it, they told him to mind his own business.
“The problem is that 85 percent of bullying has no intervention. The parents aren’t stepping up, the kids that see it don’t step up, and administration doesn’t step up. You have to take care of the problem right away,” Wells said.
When Wells speaks at schools, he educates students on techniques to prevent bullying, shares stories about bullying, and talks about how to help someone who is being bullied.
The Chocolate Jazz Concert is set for 3 p.m. Sept. 15 at Newport United Methodist Church, 80 Center St. SE, London. A freewill offering will be taken to support the Chocolate Jazz Foundation.
Wells also will perform during worship services that same day–at 9:45 a.m. at Newport United Methodist Church and at 11:15 a.m. at Lafayette United Methodist Church, 61 Second Ave. SE, London. Stuntz serves as pastor at both churches and invites the public to attend.
For details, call Newport United Methodist Church at (740) 852-9408 or Lafayette United Methodist Church at 852-3613.
To learn more about the Chocolate Jazz Foundation, go to www.davebond.org.