The Royal Tailor Band was just beginning to make incredible progress and were looking toward a successful future in the Christian music industry. But, as things typically happen in life, the band’s future became unknown. The guys in the band were getting married and having kids and life on the road was no longer as appealing. So, the band parted ways to pursue God’s calling in other avenues. However, Tauren Wells still felt driven to make music. He felt as if God wasn’t done with him yet. So a year later, he branched out as a solo artist.
THE POWER OF A SINGLE INFLUENCE
Growing up, Tauren benefitted from the presence and involvement of his uncle, who was also his youth pastor and worked at Tauren’s high school. Over time, Tauren became hooked on youth ministry and singing. “Seeing him doing ministry and all of that inspired me to think, That’s what I want to do,” Tauren says.
His uncle was the first to encourage Tauren to pursue music. “At 16, he told me, ‘You have a good voice. You could lead worship, but I need you to be able to play an instrument.’”
Tauren began learning to play the piano, but “I couldn’t learn songs fast enough,” which was like “torture” for the worship band, so he began writing his own. “No one knows if you mess up your own song, so I started doing that,” he says with a laugh. While continuing to learn piano, his natural talent for music began to emerge. At the same time, he grew to love all aspects of youth ministry.
That interest led him to Bible college, where he met his future bandmates, his wife and other critical people who helped develop his career.
But the early college years were formative for another reason. It was there Tauren’s dreams of becoming a minister was crushed. “I went to Bible college feeling pretty good about it,” he says. “Then, realized there are a ton of talented kids out here. Then, a lot of people frankly just did it differently than me.”
Things got worse from there. After a presentation in a public speaking class, a professor accused Tauren of plagiarism. “I’m taking this speaking class, and I put my message together like my youth pastor taught me: graphics, PowerPoint … I researched and put it together the whole thing. I came in, delivered my talk. He told me after my message, ‘Go sit down and don’t ever bring something that you got off the internet in here again.’”
“I was like, ‘I did this, I wrote this.’
“He said, ‘There’s no way that you wrote that. You got that off the internet.’ I was really upset at the time. I didn’t realize it because I was just mad, but it was very hurtful.” The false accusation was devastating and had lasting effects.
Even as the lead singer of a successful, touring band years later, Tauren would organize the set list so he didn’t have to talk more than a few seconds to introduce the next song. “I could entertain, perform, sing, lead worship and all of that,” he says. “But there was just insecurity when it came to having a thought that people would actually want to listen to.”
Being in a band enabled Tauren to hide behind their collective identity. “A lot of people called me Royal. They thought that that was my name. My identity was so wrapped up in what I was doing, and not just in who I was.”
CALLING OUT GREATNESS
Moving into his 30s brought a period of self-discovery and reflection. In that process, Tauren sensed a “settling into” who God designed him to be: a multifaceted artist with roles as a husband, father, entrepreneur, musician, songwriter and minister/speaker. “I think that’s how God designed us all,” he says. “I don’t think any of us are one-trick ponies. We all have gifts. A lot of people have a hard time seeing you any other way than how they’ve seen you. People limit us to maybe the thing we do best, forgetting that there are other gifts that if they were developed, could shine just as bright.”
With that maturation came the courage to step out on his own as an artist, and for the first time in nearly 10 years, a speaker. “It took me until last year to get to the place where I’m like, I’m going to do this,” he says. “I’m going to at least give myself the opportunity.
His message? “I feel called to call greatness out of people,” he says. “I basically want to do the opposite of what I’ve experienced. If people have spoken a low expectation of someone’s life, I want to be the voice that raises the ceiling, makes them feel like they can do something great.”
CREATING A NEW TEMPLATE
The excitement and positivity are palpable not only in his talk but his music as well. Tauren’s energetic style plays on pop sensibilities with a heavy dose of urban appeal. “That’s the vein that I want to be in,” he says. “The sound is very current for what’s happening in mainstream,” he says. “It’s very progressive for what’s happening in Christian music, which is a part of what I want to do. I want to create a new template,” he continues. “I want to go in front of people and knock down some walls so that people better than me can come behind and not have the same struggles.”
“At the same time, I feel provoked to do something. I want it to be multi-dimensional. I want [listeners] to leave inspired, but also asking questions: What do I do next? What does what I’m feeling mean, and what do I do with it? I feel like at that point, we can give them a vision: Here are ways you can express your gifts. I feel like the music is the runway to taking people somewhere.”
Tauren’s taking steps to make sure his connection to community doesn’t change with the territory. “I know that when I am done being an artist in this capacity, I will either be on staff at the church or start a church,” he says. “That’s the ultimate thing that I’m going to do. I value it now. I don’t want to get in la-la land out here on the road in artist world.” In essence, he’s counting on the local church to be the friend who’s willing to speak up if success goes to his head. “I think the local church is the mechanism to remind you of who you are,” he says.
It’s that commitment that keeps him grounded. “I’m on the prayer team, so I get emails coming to my phone all day: ‘Pray for so and so in the hospital – surgery.’ You realize real life is happening to people. Ultimately, that’s why we’re doing this – to give people hope in those moments.”