b. Valerie Patricia Joel, 11 April 1945, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. Wells first sang in the junior choir of her local Joymont Church and at school concert venues. At 17 she enlisted in the WRAF, initially intending to follow a nursing career but soon met her first husband who was serving in the US Air Force. They married and she relocated with him to Tennessee where she found herself drawn to country music by the recordings of Skeeter Davis and Loretta Lynn but later claimed that Tammy Wynette was her greatest influence. When the marriage failed, she and her children returned to Carrickfergus and in 1972, she made a guest singing appearance on an album with Cliff Ledger And The Country Boys, which led to her signing with Outlet Records and her debut Country Roads.
During the 70s and early 80s, she toured in Northern Ireland and Scotland at one time fronting her band, Fargo. She recorded numerous albums for Outlet’s spin-off Homespun label including the gospel May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You and became well known for her ability to handle ‘sad’ songs such as the self-penned ‘Give Daddy Back To Me’ and Dolly Parton’s ‘Jeannie’s Afraid Of the Dark’. In 1983, a change of direction saw her decide to make a career with the Northern Ireland Prison Service where she worked as a medical officer. The work virtually ended major touring but she did continue, when possible, to play locally including many charity shows, often for the Security Forces.
In 1995, she returned to Tennessee to visit one of her daughters who had settled in the USA. There she met her second husband whom she married in 1996 and made her home in Nashville, where the country music once again rekindled her interest. In 1999, she made contacts that helped her fulfil a dream by recording in the USA. When her first CD From Nashville With Love was given European release on Jerry Hanlon’s Universal-Athena Records label, she was surprised that after a break of 15 years, the fans remembered her. The album, which contained her popular tribute to her mother, ‘Mama Dear’, was also scheduled for release in Ireland by Outlet but seemingly proved difficult for her fans to find there. Her recording of ‘The Other Woman’ also proved popular, particularly in Europe where it gained chart placement. The success led a further UAR album in 2000 but again distribution seemed to dog an Irish release.