Colorado Springs Conservatory
SPOTLIGHT SERIES · July 2021
Christina “CC” Wells – Colorado Springs Conservatory (CSC) Alumna, CSC Program Mentor – Voice, Composition & Songwriting, Singer/Songwriter/Lead Vocalist – CC & The Silhouettes
Championed by Oberlin Conservatory and Juilliard School-educated Founder Linda Weise, the Colorado Springs Conservatory attracts and retains the nation’s finest arts educators. We have a deep and abiding respect for our faculty mentors and guest artists/lecturers who share with our students a gift for teaching and a deep passion for the arts. Our teaching method is student-centric, offering a balance of peer-coaching, teacher mentoring, and performance.
Occasionally, we are honored when an accomplished alumna returns to Colorado Springs Conservatory to mentor future generations… And especially when that alumna has called the Conservatory “home” for her entire life!
This month, we’d like to shine our spotlight on Christina “CC” Wells – Conservatory Alumna, Conservatory Program Mentor in Voice, Composition and Songwriting, and local singer, songwriter and musician!
Christina, we know our current students, parents and donors would love to hear about your journeys as both a student and now as program mentor at CSC, along with your professional singing career!
As Colorado Springs Conservatory Founder Linda Weise’s daughter, did you “grow up” attending Conservatory?
The school has been my family’s life since I was born… from day one of private voice lessons my mom gave in her basement, to now – 27 years later. I am still growing up in the Conservatory because this is still my family’s legacy.
Did you feel any added pressure because of that unique situation?
Of course I felt added pressure! I thought all eyes had been on me to be the “poster child,” but only later did I realize that my mom treated every child like her own. She didn’t prioritize me or expect better from me than anyone else. Everyone who goes through the CSC represents one other, so really, the pressure that I felt only propelled me to be the best I could for everyone else.
What were your favorite things to study at the Conservatory?
This is an extremely hard question: On one hand, I would spend HOURS in the piano lab creating songs on the preprogrammed settings that the Clavinovas had. (Kids, if you’re reading this, I dare you to figure out how to record a song on one of them, instead of in the recording studio!)
We also had a computer lab that had all the old original Apple personal computers with Sibelius on it. We would write out manuscripted music aaaaaallllll day and hear it through the “pings” of the computer piano sound. Those were always my favorite moments.
But at the time, the theater and visual art department was a HUGE part of everyone’s life. We did so many shows and random performances all over the place. I wouldn’t have traded those experiences for the world.
Where did you attend high school, and were you active in music/theater in school?
I attended Palmer High School. Great school! I was student class president for a few years, and also secretary of social, so I got to plan all the dances and events and stuff. I wasn’t in the “theater/music” scene because I knew I got better opportunities and more learning experiences from the CSC. But I definitely used my set design and directing skills to make those dances the best ones the school has seen!
After you graduated CSC and high school, did you continue to study music/performance? If so, where/in what?
After I graduated, I studied Musical Theater in St. Louis at Webster University of Fine Arts. It’s a four-year degree program with a crazy competitive acceptance rate.
I also got accepted to Boston Conservatory, Oklahoma City University, UNC, and a few others! But it was most awesome to go to Webster because CSC Alumni Josh Franklin and Michael Dewar went there, and both had had very fulfilling college experiences – comparable to what I was looking for.
When did you return to Colorado Springs? How has the city changed since you were a kid? What is your hope/vision for the city?
I officially returned to Colorado Springs in 2017/2018. I returned from living in New York for a little over a year after college. I LOVE NYC, don’t get me wrong, and I want to go back some day, but what I love about COS is that there’s a chance to start a music scene and a city’s culture in such a positive and productive way. As young professionals in the world, we actually have a voice here and we can make a big difference for everyone to succeed and not just a few. I’m excited that we have the potential to remove the “dog eat dog” mentality that reeks in this industry, and that we can work WITH each other’s success and not work OFF of others’ successes.
What are some of your favorite memories as a student at CSC?
Oh jeez, that’s a loaded question. I could write a whole book about our crazy adventures. I had so much fun because everyone was family…. From playing pretend in the backyard and recreating a live action Harry Potter series to creating an opera in the backseat of my dad’s truck with all the original Jazz Program kids!
But honestly I think the best part was the fact that we were so integrated. Every family interacted with the other families. All the dads helped build sets and the moms helped the green rooms stay calm. There would be big family dinners where my parents would make pasta for every kid there and we would sit and laugh and create and have hard talks and learn from each other.
You are now a program mentor at CSC. What is your favorite part of returning to Conservatory to teach?
Honestly, these kids are so much more talented than me. They have YouTube and social media teaching them stuff that I’m picking up at the same time. So what’s actually quite crazy is, most of the time, I’m not teaching them just the “music”… I’m teaching them how to be confident. I’m teaching them how to push boundaries and get out of their heads. I’m teaching them that it takes hard work and thick skin in this industry. And it’s more than just being “talented”… it’s the accountability you need and quality social skills. I’m teaching them how to listen to all opinions and then figure out a way to communicate that through art. I’m teaching them how to make big bold statements and not just manufactured content.
Why do you believe music education is important?
Music AND theater education is important because it creates an empathetic person. Creatives become more open to questions because we are challenged constantly… whether it’s emotionally, through theater improv games making you stay on your toes and roll with the punches, or intellectually, through your music theory class showing you how to completely break the rules.
I believe we are taught resilience because we are allowed to fail.
I believe we are taught work ethic through passion because we can express ourselves.
I also believe we are taught about history, politics, literature, science, math, and creative writing because music and theater are expressions and better, truer teachings of all of them.
Any advice to parents or guardians whose kids attend Colorado Springs Conservatory?
To the parents or guardians of the children who are going through the school now… you are raising children in a VERY different time. We have exploded, as a society, into this technology-based world, and we haven’t learned how to control it yet. But what we have learned is that social media and phones are creating minds that don’t think outside the box (quite literally). I recommend letting the kids be bored more often. Don’t pack their schedules and keep them away from their phones! Letting the kids hang out together at the Conservatory before their classes even start was when all our MOST uninterrupted creative moments happened.
Tell us about CC & The Silhouettes!
CC and the Silhouettes is an amazing band consisting of David Musante, Ian Gregory, Matt Campbell, Caleb Sutton and myself. We play my original music and other great cover songs! You can learn all about us on my website: www.ccwellsmusic.com
What else is “in the works” for CC Wells?
I am currently working on the PBS show “Simple Gift Series” with my mother – Linda Weise, Conservatory alumni Tripp and Drew Fountain, and CSC mentor Ian Gregory, as well as many other wonderful people. I am the illustrator for all the books and episodes and have been working furiously since the beginning of February 2020, with our now third season underway!
Who is your role model?
I mean, I think the answer is obvious. My mother is my role model. She is the hardest working, kindest, most talented, determined, and genuine person I know. She has put her blood, sweat and tears into the Colorado Springs Conservatory and has brought something so full of love, compassion and inclusion into this once small military town.
She has fought off the naysayers for 27 years and will continue to do so…because she not only believes in what she’s doing, but we have seen the actual evidence of how much good it has put into the world. She has never done it for personal gain, ever. My parents gave not only from their hearts, they also gave from their bank accounts to make sure all kids had this kind of high education.
She has been leading the effort to create a city for us all to come back to and prosper. It was never about her and still isn’t. It’s always been about the kids.
Favorite quote or personal mantra?
Well, my senior quote was “everything happens for a reason” which I fully believe in, no matter how cheesy. But lately it’s been the Arabic word “Bismillah” which means “with God.” It’s a mantra used before you do anything, no matter how small it seems. I believe it to be important no matter your faith or beliefs… because everything we do should be done with a greater purpose in mind: Just being a good person.
What is CC Wells’ Road Trip Playlist?
“CUT EM IN” feat. Rick ross – Anderson Paak
“A-punk” – Vampire Weekend
“I Can’t Stand the Rain” – Ann Peebles
“Already Gone” – Alison Wonderland
“Rollercoaster” – Full crate
“Open Up Reimagined” – UMI
“Time Alone With You” – Jacob Collier, Daniel Caesar
“Tighten Up” – The Black Keys
“Watch Me Dance” – Tom Misch
^^^ forever changing and not long enough.