Beyond the Song: Dusty Wells, Gospel Music Industry Insider

Dusty Wells
Dusty Wells

Beyond the Song by Jantina Baksteen

I caught up with Dusty Wells who has been writing for SGNScoops for years and works for Daywind Records. We hope you enjoy reading his story.

Jantina Baksteen: You are no stranger to the Southern gospel industry and you wear many hats. Can you share what hats you wear? 

Dusty Wells: Well, first of all, I love love hats; both real hats, to help keep my bald head warm and I love being able to wear many different hats in my job and career. I have always loved being a part of this wonderful industry in all genres of music. Southern gospel is at the top of my list, and I also love and have worked in Contemporary Christian music as well.  My job responsibilities cover everything from working with our major accounts, with sales and marketing of the artist’s projects, to picking out songs, producers, helping maneuver and navigate marketing plans with my great team, listening to new artists and making sure that I communicate strongly with all of our artists, to going out on the road with them and seeing what all they are doing in concerts and in their services. I am involved with many aspects of the distribution and record company which encompasses so much. I love the fact that I am able to start at the beginning of an artist project or career and help to healthily exploit them in most any way we can as a record company, that will help get their music and ministry out to the masses.

Daywind logoJB: You currently work with Daywind Records. What exactly is the work you do?

DW: I will refer back to my answer from question number one. My job title is Director of Artist and Label Relations,  and that is exactly what I do. I work alongside of all of our artists, labels, key retailers, marketing, radio, sales and all. I help lead and direct all of it. I have been with New Day Distributors,  which owns Daywind, for three years, and had been with Word/Curb Records for 23 years before that, so this transition has worked beautifully.

JB: How does this job fit your personality?

DW: Love that question! I absolutely am crazy about Christian music and great artistry and ministry. Christian music touched my life when I was a 14 year old, very troubled teen. To this day, helping get it out is one of my greatest passions in life. It helps me so much and it truly is the backbone of my life, along with Jesus Christ. I am a people person and I love to share heart about the music, so it is a tremendous fit for me. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I strive to be the real deal and I truly believe in living the songs out loud.

JB: What is your definition of Southern gospel music?

DW: Easy question. For me it is simply heart music…music that touches the heart. Music that reaches deep into our souls, and moves our heart.

Wisdom from Wells: Are you listening?
Dusty Wells

JB: Who do you think are the best new, up and coming groups in SG?

DW: Oh, that’s a tough one. There are so many groups that I am loving to watch and I love to cheer on…love what they are doing and singing. I love the Sound, High Road, and The Erwins. She’s not new, but I love Lauren Talley and now that she is stepping out on her own, I think there will be some strong, wonderful opportunities for her. I love 11th Hour, the byall Brothers, Joseph Habedank, Riley Harrison Clark, the Taylors, and the Hayes family. Okay, I am going to get myself in trouble…I also love the Wilbany…I better shut up now!  I love so many of our artists and the legacy that we have and that will be carried on.

JB: What artist would you want to share dinner with, but they are no longer here on Earth?

DW: I would love to spend some good coffee time or dinner with my precious Dottie Rambo, and Vestal Goodman, and I would love to sit and talk with the legendary Marvin Norcross who started Canaan Records.

JB: If you could see five years ahead, what would you want to see accomplished in the industry?

DW: I would love to see us as an industry bring about some even greater and widerspread songs and artistry, that others would sit up and take notice of, and that they would see Jesus all over them. I do think we have some of the best of the best in our Industry, but I would love to see some even better recognition. I want to see us hold each other up and walk even more closely in unity and cheer each other on. Again, I know we do that, but I think we all can do better with that. My goal and what I want to convey to our artists is to make great music, stay true to their call, live what we sing and sing what we live, and I want that to be even more so communicated in every part of our life, gift and calling.

JB: What advice would you give to new artists? 

DW: Very simply, it’s this: If you are called and you want to succeed, then you will need to work on your craft, write from the heart, sing whenever and wherever (and sometimes it may be free). Don’t be afraid to allow constructive criticism into your life; be willing, be available, listen close for His voice and always surround yourself with like minded people who are going to tell you like it is and have Godly values and principles. A dearly loved friend, and one of the greatest writers ever, Dottie Rambo, always told me, “Dusty, darlin’, always guard your heart and protect the gift.”  That rings so true to myself daily, and I would challenge those who feel like they are called, to do the same.

JB: You grew up in a dysfunctional home. How has this shaped you personally? What lessons have you learned through your difficult childhood that could help those you get in touch with, who also go through life struggles?

DW:I could do a whole interview on this, along with a book, and a workbook, and a talk show, and even a reality show! No, in all seriousness, growing up like I did, with multiple stepfathers, raised on welfare and living in government housing, abused in most every way, having to steal the basic necessities of life, all the junk and garbage that filled my mind…But then comes the part I love about my story, where a precious couple took time out of their busy lives and schedules, to go to the wrong part of town and invite kids to Sunday School on a big church bus. I was one of those kids they led to the Lord, and they didn’t just stop there. They started picking me up for Sunday School, then Wednesday night service, Friday night youth group, and then they would take me to their house on Sunday afternoon, and we would have lunch, and they would play Christian music while we would sit around in their living room. I fell in love with that beautiful heart music. The songs moved me, challenged me, encouraged me, and uplifted me. This beautiful couple began to mentor me and show me true love. They showed me with His word that I was valuable,worth something, and very loved. They began to teach me wonderful Kingdom principles. I knew that I wanted so much more than the past life I had lived. I had been in the dark and I didn’t want to go back.

The lessons I’ve learned through all of my life journey thus far are so many, and I have learned so much, and as long as I am living and breathing, there will be so much more to learn.  

I wouldn’t trade one part of my journey. Yes, there has been pain, struggle, suffering and dealing with junk and garbage, but I made a decision after I came to know the Lord, that the good always outweighs the bad; negativity, bitterness, jealousy, strife, speculating, assuming, and worrying does nothing for any of us. Not one thing is accomplished by that. I choose to live in the now and at least daily give my best to find the good along the way. No, I am not in la la land, even though I would love to go there! I just believe that our attitude and our outlook on life, our families, our callings, our jobs, our careers, and our relationships, can affect others for the good and the better. Why choose to live in the bad, when the good is so much better.  I spent many years of wandering in the dark, but when His light was revealed to me, it truly shone bright and made me want better.

I know many people have had it worse off that me along the journey, and even right now they may be in the fight for their life, and I hate it. I don’t understand why God allows the bad, but I choose to believe what He said over and over: “I am with you” and “My ways are far greater than yours.” So I am holding onto that. I really try to do that daily. Doesn’t always happen, but at least I try.

Thank you, Dusty Wells, for sharing your wisdom, faith, and heart, with SGNScoops. We appreciate your unique view of music and life. 

For more information please visit Dusty Wells on Facebook HERE

Jantina Baksteen. Beyond the Song
Jantina Baksteen

By Jantina Baksteen

Jantina Baksteen is a gospel music writer and a regular contributor to SGNScoops magazine and website.

Jantina Baksteen – biography:

I live all the way overseas in the Netherlands. I’m married and I have three adult children. I grew up in a Christian home and knew in my early years that I wanted to belong to Him. I surrendered my life to Christ was baptized one day before I turned 11 years old. Somehow, the seed of loving gospel music was planted by the style of music my parents played at home. Around 2006/2007, I was listening to Gaither homecoming music that I found on the internet. The song, “Oh, What A Savior,” by Ernie Haase hit me with the so-called Southern gospel bug. From there, I’ve been reading /studying all I can find. I found the digital SGNScoops Magazine. I started praying for God to please give me a job in the Southern gospel industry. Now I do the “Beyond the Song” article that really has my heart as I am reaching out to artists, asking about a current song and having a sneak peak behind the scenes.

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