Lucas Artists Fellow

  • RESIDENCY DATES : Sep 8th 2008 to Dec 18th 2008
  • FROM : USA
  • MEMBER OF Alma

"A dazzling voice with an inner strength that warms the hearts of her listeners"

Juan Gonzales, El Tecolote, San Francisco CA

"...a pure powerful voice…"

Susan Drake, La Oferta, San Jose CA

Patricia Wells Solórzano was born in Brawley, Calif., a small town 25 miles north of the U.S.– Mexico border. She was raised on both sides of the border, and grew up with both Mexican and American music. She played various instruments in elementary school and junior high school marching bands. In high school, she was the junior class director of the drama production and she performed throughout the community with a ballet folklorico group (Mexican folkloric dance).

While she was a college student at CSU Northridge, Wells volunteered in the secondary boycott of Gallo Wines in the L.A. area, led by the United Farm Worker’s Union. Her contact with UFW organizers and farm workers themselves profoundly changed her perspective of the world. In 1975, she joined El Teatro de la Tierra, a non-profit arts education organization. Wells taught Spanish classes to children in the community while studying drama with Teatro members. In 1976 she moved to Mexico City, D.F. Mexico, to study Mexican and World History at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, and returned to Fresno two years later.

Wells studied singing and lead guitar playing in 1979 with Agustin Lira. Together they created “The Story of the Chicano,” a program chronicling the Mexican American experience through music and narrative. Shortly thereafter, she and Lira formed musical group "Alma." As part of Alma, Wells toured nationally and internationally, and some of her most memorable performances include the American Folklife Festival hosted by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the Cervantino International Arts Festival, in Mexico, and the U.S. – Cuba Friendship Concert in Havana Cuba.

A new CD release "Rolas de Aztlan: Songs of the Chicano Movement" (Smithsonian/Folkways Records) contains Lira’s song Quihubo Raza, produced and recorded by Wells and Lira. Wells scored music for the PBS and Paradigm film “The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworker’s Struggle."

Wells has taught music from the early 1980s to the present. Through Artist in Residence Awards from the California Arts Council and other arts funding agencies, she has worked with all age groups including: kindergarten -12, migrant/immigrant children in rural and urban communities, cultural centers, colleges, correctional institutions, and so on. She produced concerts of Latin American Folklore and Nuevo Canto at local cultural centers, churches and theaters in Fresno from 1985 through 2003.

In the Fall of 2006, Wells received special recognition from the University of Rhode Island Center for Non-Violence and Peace Studies “for career contributions using music and theatre on the pilgrimage to social justice.” As part of Alma, she received the prestigious Montalvo Artist Residency for 2006-2008. Patricia is featured in a forthcoming book “Mujeres de Conciencia/Women of Conscience” by Victoria Alvarado honoring the work of California Latinas for their lifelong dedication and contributions to the community. The California Council for the Humanities has just launched an online project for California schools that includes Wells biography called “Latino Voices.”

In January of 2000, Wells studied the fundamentals of theater technique with Lira and together they founded "Teatro Inmigrante" and produced a new full length play titled Esperanza & Luz: A Tale of 2 Immigrant Women. Wells played a lead role when it debuted at the Tamejavi Festival in Fall of 2002. A year later she acted in and co-produced Lira’s new work titled Cruz, Miracle at Labor Camp 12, which debuted at Fresno’s Rogue Festival. In the summer of 2004 the Pan Valley Institute of the American Friends Service Committee contracted Wells and Lira to co-write and direct a play titled The Music of Life: The Life & Times of Candelaria Arroyo, which debuted Oct.6, 2004, at the Tamejavi Festival. She produced and performed music in the theatrical dramatization of I Am Joaquin, touring the show to UCSD, Galeria Posada in Sacramento and Butte College.

To hear samples of Wells music, log on to, click on "Music" and "Agustin Lira."