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Why a Grammy award-winning producer is opening a music venue in rural Newfoundland

Why a Grammy award-winning producer is opening a music venue in rural Newfoundland

Greg Wells is as big as it gets in the pop music world.

His credits include working with stars like Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, and Keith Urban.

In 2023, he won a Grammy with Michael Bublé.

He’s currently working with Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo on the film version of the musical Wicked.

But there’s another project, in a rural town on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, that has been taking up a lot of his time this past year. And all at his own expense.

A man stands next to scaffolding in an old church pointing up.
Wells instructs electricians to reposition a spotlight in a desired direction. Along with restoring the former church, new lighting, heating, and recording equipment was added to modernize the venue and recording space. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

This week was the grand opening for The Trinity Hall in Winterton, NL, the newest music venue in the province and a dream come true for the Los Angeles-based music producer.

“I’ve always had a fantasy of buying a church, because my dad was a minister. I grew up in the church. I’m a trained pipe organist. I used to play church organ all the time,” says Wells.

So he bought the former Anglican Church in Winterton, and started a non-profit to restore the buildings and grounds, including restoring the historic headstones, adding a new heating and light system, and bringing in an antique pipe organ to the stage.

Wells says it’s a way to help him connect to his roots.

A man wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt smiles as he sits in front of a computer and recording equipment.
Ryan Gates works for Scilly Cove Records. So far, its roster includes local musicians Courtney Wicks, Summer Bennett and Yes, Officer. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

His grandfather was a minister in the same town, at the church just behind the one he owns.

His mother, Judy, moved away in her teens and he says she always missed the place. So for him, it’s not that unusual he would end up here.

“For me it was like pushing a door that was already half way open,” said Wells.

His idea for Trinity Hall is a place to host concerts with local artists and workshops for people in the local music industry, sharing his knowledge and that of his peers.

He has also started a new record label, Scilly Cove Records, as a non-profit to help local artists, with half the profits going to the artists and the other half to community charities.

Local Ryan Gates, a director of the Trinity Hall board, is one of the people helping Wells realize this dream.

A man in a plaid shirt and black t-shirt stands on the left with his arm around a man on the right, wearing a hat and Led Zeppelin t-shirt.
Gates says he’s learned a lot and is excited to see what happens for the Newfoundland and Labrador music scene because of this project. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Gates says he was skeptical when he first heard someone from out of town bought the church.

“I wanted to get involved primarily to make sure that the interests of the town were being looked after, because at that point I didn’t know who else was involved from the town. All I knew was a guy was buying the church,” says Gates.

Gates works as an artist and repertoire rep with Scilly Cove Records, signing artists like Courtney Wicks, Summer Bennett, and Yes, Officer to the label.

And he’s even been given a few pointers from Wells on how to use the top of the line equipment in the recording studio.

“It means the world to me. I can say without hesitation that all Greg’s intentions and what he wants for the Newfoundland Labrador and the local community are nothing but pure,” he said.

“We’re very, very, very fortunate to have him.”

Weekend AM12:35Welcome to Trinity Hall and Scilly Cove Records

Los Angeles based music producer Greg Wells is opening a music performance and recording venue in Winterton, Newfoundland and Labrador

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador