Wells Hanley grew up mostly outside and without shoes in the countryside of Virginia. In a house with no air conditioning and no television (he now has air conditioning), the stereo was the place where the family would hang out and pass time in the evenings. Early influences included The Beatles' White Album, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and Bob Marley and the Wailers' Kaya.
Dropping piano lessons at an early age after a short while (due to stage fright and a bad performing experience), Wells gravitated toward the drums where he was (and is) largely self taught. Continuing to play piano by ear and picking up guitar, Wells began writing songs for his wildly popular high school band, mysteriously named Ly Forbes.
A few twists and turns later, Wells began studying classical piano intently, and while earning his Bachelor’s in Piano Performance at JMU in Virginia, he began learning jazz on the piano. Thus his career life as a gigging pianist began, beginning at the iconic Miller’s in Charlottesville, VA with John D’earth’s Thursday night group and eventually taking him to the Montreaux, North Sea, and Spoleto festivals abroad and to countless jazz clubs and festivals in the US.
While on track for a Master’s in Jazz Piano from the Manhattan School of Music, Wells began to delve back into songwriting and things began to come full circle. Though his focus is now primarily songwriting and composition, he spends a good deal of time playing gigs on piano and practicing the works of Chopin (and sometimes other composers, but mostly Chopin). He is on the faculty at VCU where he teaches jazz piano.
Wells also spends a good bit of time in New York City where he accompanies a host of singers in a variety of styles. He is a creative coach, an encourager of the authentic, and a champion of all things beautiful and artistic. He cries nearly once during every movie and believes that the world can become a better place through individuals getting to know themselves better. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Maria, who is also a pianist, and his son Sasha who plays a number of instruments but mostly just loves trucks and dinosaurs.