Shirley Wahls is known as one of the young pioneers of Gospel music. Singing in the church since the age of three, she began her singing career in the junior choir of the Mt Pleasant Baptist Church when the family migrated to Chicago. Under the direction of Ruth Jones, better known as Dinah Washington and later Phillip Gilbert, Jr., she started her journey as a lead soloist in the Jr. Choir.
Her professional career began with such legendary groups as “The Argo Singers,” “The Ward Gospel Singers” and “The Dorothy Norwood Singers.” Her out front solos were picks and sellers for each group.
She had a short run in the secular field with Mercury Records and GRT (Chess Records), with the Rotary Connection, under the Direction of the incomparable Charles Stepney, referred by Minnie Ripperton.
Ms. Wahls has appeared in theater throughout the Chicago area and is known for her role in the Joseph Jefferson Award Winning “Great Women in Gospel” (Sallie Martin) and “The Other Cinderella” (Step Momma). Black Ensemble Theater, Navy Pier, The New Regal Theater and DuSable Museum IBLA Auditorium.
In 2004 and 2006 Ms. Wahls produced her own play ‘The Concert/The Legacy” a trilogy, which starred Marla Gibbs as Dinah Washington in 2004 and Garland Green in 2006. (Bessie Smith, Sallie Martin) IBLA Auditorium, DuSable Museum.
In January of 2011, DuSable Museum of African American History contracted Ms. Wahls for a very successful Dr. King, The Legacy Presentation. (Writer, Producer, Director, Actor,( Bessie Smith).DuSable IBLA Auditorium.
Ms. Wahls produced her own play ‘The Concert/The Legacy” a trilogy, which starred Marla Gibbs as Dinah Washington in 2004 and “Garland Green” (Bessie Smith, Sallie Martin) in 2006, both presented at the IBLA Auditorium of the DuSable Museum.
In January, 2011,the DuSable Museum of African American History contracted Ms. Wahls as writer, producer, director, and actor (Bessie Smith), for the very successful “Dr. King, The Legacy” presentation at the DuSable IBLA Auditorium.
Ms. Wahl’s children’s theater performances include:
“The Tiger who wore White Gloves” (Kapeni The Crocodile) at Kennedy King Theater
“The Education of Darren Hopeful” (Slave) at Chicago Center of Performing Arts
“This Far By Faith” (The Matriarch) at ETA — two Productions the most recent in 2009.