Cheryl Wheeler

From Academic Kids

Cheryl Wheeler (born July 10, 1951) is a New England-based singer/songwriter of contemporary folk music. Her songs range from silly to serious. Frequent topics are love relationships, descriptions of places or events, and profiles of people.

Wheeler was born in Timonium, Maryland. She performed at clubs in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas. After moving to Rhode Island in 1976, she was the bass player for Jonathan Edwards, who has since produced a number of her albums.

Wheeler tours extensively (,Cheryl), and her live concerts include comic routines and serious discussions in addition to the songs themselves. About half of the songs she performs in concerts are not available on any of her albums. Many never get recorded, and eventually fade from her set list. Although she mostly tours alone, she has recently toured with Kenny White (who produced her first EP album). Kenny generally opens for her, and then plays and sings harmony during Wheeler's set. Wheeler also frequently tours with the Christine Lavin-inspired tour "On a Winter's Night", and has occasionally toured as part of Lavin's consortium Four Bitchin Babes.

She has released several albums on major labels, the most recent being Rounder Records. She also approved the production of a double disc album No Previous Record that contains songs that never made it onto a commercial recording. Distribution of this album was free, but restricted to members of her e-mail list (

Her song "If It Were Up to Me", with the closing line "If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns" got nationwide attention shortly after the Columbine High School massacre. Wheeler released that recording into the public domain to exempt radio stations from paying royalties (it was being played every hour near the high school), and Rounder Records ran a promotional campaign to donate to the Brady Campaign each time the song was played on AAA radio stations.

Although primarily classified as a folk singer/songwriter, Wheeler has been covered by a number of country music artists, such as Dan Seals, Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, Sylvia, and Garth Brooks, as well as artists such as Bette Midler, Melanie, and cabaret singer D.C. Anderson.

A complete discography and detailed discussions about her songs can be found at her "Official Unofficial Website" (


The following albums are still in print:

  • Cheryl Wheeler (1986)
  • Half a Book (1991)
  • Circle and Arrows (1990)
  • Driving Home (1993)
  • Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar (1995)
  • Sylvia Hotel (1999)
  • Different Stripe (2003)
  • No Previous Record (2003)
  • Defying Gravity (2005)


Two songs that represent Wheeler's treatment of love are among her oldest and newest songs. Her song “Arrow” is probably her best known, most requested, and most covered song. The singer is wanting to fall in love, but knows that doing so usually leads to trouble. The song contains memories of being with a former lover. A more recent song, "Gandhi/Buddha", expresses the thought that the singer must have been Gandhi, or Buddha, someone "really great" to get to have found her lover. This latter song has been used by several fans as the "first dance" at their wedding.

Weather is another frequent topic for songs. Her song “When Fall Comes to New England” paints a picture as suggested by the title. She has written several songs about storms, including Act of Nature" where the aftermath of a hurricane, specifically a fallen tree, is compared to the breakup of a relationship, and “Floyd”, a humorous song about the hurricane that fizzled out by the time it got to her area.

Wheeler has written a number of songs that describe a person in such a way that many would love to meet them, and in some cases, they become minor celebrities. For example, the title song on her album Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar tells the story about an evening spent passing around a guitar and singing songs. Once, when Wheeler was performing nearby, Mrs. Pinocci came out on stage and introduced Wheeler. Another song, “Alice”, is about a woman who managed a motel where Wheeler stayed after one of her shows. The woman was a recent widow ("some surgeon screwed up, there's nothing more to say"). Her children want her to settle down, but she wants to travel ("the more I travel, the more I wanna see"). Within a few days of that song being performed for the first time, Alice received a phone call from someone in the area who had a friend that was in the audience.

Some of her best-known songs include:

  • “Arrow” - a song about lost love
  • "Seventy-five Septembers" - a song about her father and the passage of time
  • "Time Taketh Away" - a song about the effects of old age, particularly on her dad
  • "Don't Forget the Guns" - a sarcastic song about guns
  • “If It Were Up to Me” - a serious song about guns
  • “Further and Further Away” - a song about growing older
  • “Gandhi/Buddha” - a song about being blessed with love
  • “His Hometown” - a song about her neighbor that drives a back hoe
  • "Piper" - a self-referential song that wouldn't let Wheeler fall asleep until it was written
  • “Quarter Moon” - a song about an elderly couple who were her neighbors
  • "Driving Home" - a mellow song about looking forward to a visit home

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