The essential Julie Murphy Wells

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

Julie Murphy Wells is a home-grown whirlwind who divides her time between singing, teaching and her family. The Vienna native, now a resident of Arlington, has been the lead singer with Eddie From Ohio since 1991. This week, she steps into her big-band persona in her annual solo gig.

"I've always wished I was born in the 1940s because I love the standards and Broadway numbers," she said. "It would have been fun to wear an evening gown and sing with an orchestra behind me. This show at Wolf Trap allows me to sing my favorite numbers from 'Les Mis' and 'Oliver,' and songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter and Gershwin. I'll be accompanied by pianist Eli Staples, Mark Prince on drums, Jeff Reed on bass and Brad Collins on sax, the same band I sang with last year at Wolf Trap."

Wells attributes her ability to balance performing and home making to her family. When her two boys were young, she relied on relatives, friends and her husband's flexible schedule as a contractor to cover the home front while she was away on short gigs with EFO. Initially, her schedule was four days on the road, then back home for two days.

"I've always loved music, but I majored in human resources in college instead and began working at a hotel chain," she said. "When they offered me a promotion and I turned it down, my father couldn't believe that I had chosen to sing in a bar full-time. Today, he's my biggest fan."

Onstage
Julie Murphy Wells
Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Info: $25; 877-WOLFTRAP (965-3872); wolftrap.org

Wells might have lost hope and given up her career in 2005, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead, she doggedly continued to tour while undergoing treatment. Today, she is a survivor and spokesperson for breast cancer.

"Music did it," she said. "I continued to tour with EFO once a month, and each time I came back from a trip, my white blood count was higher. The support from my family, band members and fans gave me the strength I needed."

Now that her sons have grown and are in the fifth and seventh grade, Wells has taken on a full-time job as a teaching assistant to special needs children at Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna. She loves the work and the ability to balance the joy of helping youngsters during the week with weekend shows at such local venues as the Birchmere.

"I love performing there, as well as at Wolf Trap, because of the intimacy and the tight-knit family environment," she said. "It's such fun to share my love of music with the audiences, and I look forward to seeing lots of EFO fans at Wolf Trap."

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Emily Cary

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner