With six CD's to her credit, her latest CD, "Good Summer Rain" was sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization. The CD also won the 2008 National Association for Interpretation Media Awards for "Best Interpretive Music."
Erica has been featured on syndicated radio programs such as "All Things Considered" and "Voice of America" and her music has charted in the top-ten on Billboard's Gavin Americana Chart.
In addition to recording and performing, Erica offers programs that help people connect to their 'sense of place.' Since 2001, she has presented her Soulful Landscape programs at conferences, events and learning centers across the country, from Yosemite National Park (CA) to Walden Woods (MA.) Her work connecting people and place has been feature in Orion, Yes! and Yankee magazines.
Erica brings two decades of experience as a performer, and over a decade of experience as a speaker and educator. She also brings her lifelong passion for place, nature, history, culture, and her expertise working with parks, museums, schools and conservation organizations. Erica's work helps to foster the personal connections between people and place, helping people enjoy places more today, and take care of places for the future.
The mission of her work is to provide entertaining and educational programs that enrich lives and inspire stewardship.
"Her songs measure the cost of urban sprawl not in terms of species endangered, but in memories lost. Her lyrics evoke all the trails we’ve hiked, the streams swum, the trees climbed, and all the moments of growth enjoyed there -- the silent epiphanies, the stolen kisses -- without ever sounding preachy. But when she drops the truism “Your children won’t know (the land) the way I did,” suddenly your local zoning battle may seem a little more interesting.” -Yankee Magazine
“If this CD doesn’t compel you to get outside and enjoy what little green space we have left, put it on for a mental break while you’re stuck in the concrete gridlock of rush hour.” -Performing Songwriter Magazine
“Listening to Good Summer Rain is like flipping through the photo album of an Ansel Adams road trip. Each artfully created song transports the listener to a particular location, like a snapshot in time.” - Planet Jackson Hole News
Performing ArtistKnown for her visual, 'cinematographic' style of songwriting, Erica Wheeler takes listeners on a journey though the American landscape and the lives lived there with poetic beauty and grace. Her music is pure Americana, falling into the categories of folk, country and bluegrass. On stage, armed with an acoustic guitar and her richly expressive voice, Erica is also known for her engaging warmth, colorful stories and hilarious stage patter.
Speaker, Educator and Conservation Advocate
Erica started college with wildlife field biology in mind, but went on to become a nationally known singer/songwriter whose work is deeply rooted in the natural world and a sense of place. After years of crossing the country, and witnessing the rapid growth that was forever changing the landscape of many of her favorite places, she decided to bring her work full circle.
Today, Erica combines her career as a performing artist with her lifelong interest in natural and cultural history and conservation issues to offer the Soulful Landscape programs. She has worked with individuals, groups and organizations across the country helping to foster the bonds that connect people to place.
"We need more sessions like this. Important reminder of why we do the work we do." Participant, National Land Trust Alliance Rally
Raised in the suburbs of Washington DC (Chevy Chase, Maryland) Erica was exposed to traditional folk and bluegrass music through family escapades to the surrounding regions of rural Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. She began playing guitar in 8th grade, inspired by the music featured in the coal-mining documentary "Harlan County, USA." She notes "Whenever there was tension in that film, the music would cut right through and tell the truth. It impressed me then how powerful music can be." She acquired a book called 1,001 folk songs, and has been playing guitar ever since.
Erica's early musical inspiration came from her parents recordings of folk singers such as Judy Collins and Odetta, as well as bluegrass bands like the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene. Growing up, her brothers collection of 70's singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Neil Young were favorites. In college, when she began writing songs in earnest, Erica was inspired by Ferron and Joan Armatrading, and later, Nanci Griffith, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Erica has also been deeply inspired by writers such as Aldo Leopold, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Tempest Williams and the poet Mary Oliver.
After a decade of touring and witnessing the growing sprawl that was changing many of her favorite place, she decided to bring her work full circle, creating the Soulful Landscape programs. Over the past decade she has offered her work connecting people to place at conference, learning centers and public events across the country.
Erica currently lives north of Northampton, Massachusetts in the hilltown of Colrain. Her home is a 100-year-old little house beside a rushing brook, surrounded by her neighbor's 750-acre dairy and maple sugar farm. Erica finds her "sense of place" both at home and traveling back roads of America. A troubadour in the classic sense of the word, Erica's impressions of the people and places she meets along the way eventually work their way into her songs.
Her evocative, visual songs and her powerful Soulful Landscape programs inspire a sense of place and connection in listeners that is much needed in our world today. Her passionate love for places sparks an authentic response in others to care about their their survival and stewardship.
Erica has six recordings to her credit. She released her first two on her own Blue Pie label. (Blue pie is waitress shorthand for blueberry pie.)
Strong Heart(1989) came out on cassette while she was still a waitress, house painter and home health care aid.
From That Far (1992) followed on CD, launching her official start as a national touring artist.
The Harvest (1996) In 1996 was signed to the Signature Sounds label where she released her breakthrough CD The Harvest. That year she also took home first place in the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Troubadour contest. Produced by bluegrass veteran Laurie Lewis, The Harvest was released to critical acclaim, "This is new folk at its best" Acoustic Guitar Magazine. It solidified her reputation as one of the finest touring artists to come out of the New England folk resurgence in the 90's. It also garnered her a feature interview on NPR's All Things Considered, a top 10 spot on Billboard's Gavin American Chart.
three wishes (1999) featured members of Bob Dylan's road band and was released on Signature Sounds to more critical acclaim.
Almost Like Tonight (2004) followed on her own Blue Pie label, with assistance from Signature Sounds.
Good Summer Rain (2008) was her next studio recording and is by far her most outstanding release to date. Released on her own Blue Pie label with radio assistance from Signature Sounds. The CD was also sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land. a national land conservation organization. Produced in Boston by Crit Harmon (Martin Sexton, Mary Gauthier, Lori McKenna), Good Summer Rain fuses the roots Americana sounds of dobro, mandolin, guitar, and drums with the elegance of piano and upright bass, offering a rich textural foundation for Erica's expressive lyrics and intimate, conversational vocal style. Good Summer Rain is an imaginative, unforgettable journey through the American landscape and the lives lived there Each song beautifully evokes the relationships between people and place, spanning from the intimate streets of Greenwich Village to the sweeping vistas of Jackson Hole. They reach out to where farmland gives way to sprawl and wilderness gives way to industrial growth. Thoughtful, deeply spiritual and satisfying, Good Summer Rain evokes a sense of connection that is much needed in our world today.