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Old Town: Rising musical artist Mannywellz shoots a new video in Laurel

Mannywellz, of Laurel, who recently shot a music video for his upcoming album, "Mirage."
Mannywellz, of Laurel, who recently shot a music video for his upcoming album, "Mirage." (Courtesy photo / HANDOUT)

Some of the first spots to return to normal during this pandemic have been tennis courts, which have hosted a steady stream of players enjoying fresh air and a contact-free sport. But that’s not the only thing they’ve hosted.

On May 24, the courts along 9th Street that are part of the city’s McCullough Field-Sturgis Moore Recreation Area were the scene of a music video featuring a rising local artist.

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Musician and singer Mannywellz, clad all in white, spent the afternoon with a three-man crew to shoot a video for his single, “Floating,” which is expected to be released in July. It is a single from his forthcoming album “Mirage.”

“We are playing off the lines [of the court] and the symmetry of the space,” said the video’s director, Samson Binutu. “This court gave us the option to shoot scenes.”

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It is the second project on which Mannywellz and Binutu, who both live in Laurel, have collaborated. In fact, Mannywellz is steadily gaining attention for his music and frequently collaborates with other artists, including Washington, D.C.-based rappers Wale and Matt McGhee.

The 26-year-old Wellz, who describes his music as soulful, has pursued music full time for five years. He grew up in a musical family, often singing in church, and plays piano, guitar, drums and other percussion instruments. He also writes and produces.

“I pretty much just create from the soul, soulful music really,” Mannywellz said. “But I’m able to bring soul into any genre: hip hop, R and B, African vibes.”

Mannywellz, whose real name is Emmanuel Ajomale, was born in Nigeria and arrived in the United in 2003. He is a recipient of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It is his status as a DACA recipient that led him to contribute to an album, “American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom” by the John Daversa Big Band, that won a Grammy award in 2019.

Early this year, Mannywellz had a small tour to bring his music directly to fans. He was planning to be back on the road this summer, but like everything in life, plans have changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he is focusing his efforts on his next album and creating music.

“My mission in life is definitely bigger than music,” he said, “but music is the starting point. I want to bring hope for people. I want to see how I can help make the world a better place.”

My last column featured a note about neighbors who helped beautify our shared spaces by mowing the lawn at Laurel Elementary School and weeding beds along Main Street. I missed some of those volunteers, so this is a thank-you to James Kole and Joshua Kole for their efforts. Finally, thanks to neighbor Mike McLaughlin for the tip about Mannywellz and the video.

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