Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place


Erica Wheeler is a "sense of place"  songwriter, speaker, educator and advocate who guides individuals, communities, professionals and organizations in exploring their personal stories of connection to place.

For over two decades, she has offered customized programs that enrich lives and inspire stewardship. Both entertaining and educational, her work evokes a sense of place and belonging that is deeply needed in our world today.

She specializes in working with parks, conservation organizations, educators, and others whose work involves connecting people and place. Attendees leave inspired and recharged. They take away energy, fresh ideas and tools for how to use their heartfelt passion to make a difference in the world.

Her work connecting people and place has been feature in Orion, Yes! and Yankee magazines. She has offered programs for both the public and professionals across the country, from Yosemite National Park to Walden Pond.

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Erica's music is described as “cinematic” and “poetic.” She has released six albums that take listeners on journeys though the American landscape and the lives lived there. Her music has charted in the top-ten on Billboard's Gavin Americana Chart and has been featured on syndicated radio programs such as "All Things Considered" and "Voice of America.

Her most recent CD "Good Summer Rain" was sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization. The album was also the winner of the 2008 National Association for Interpretation Media Award for “Best Interpretive Music.

Erica's sense of place work began as a student of wildlife biology at Hampshire College, there she discovered the power of story to inspire conservation and stewardship, often more than research and data alone. She went on to become an award-winning singer/songwriter whose songs were rooted in her own sense of place and passion for protecting the places she loves.

In 2001, she expanded her performing career to include teaching, speaking and advocating for the land, its history, and our connection to it. Today, she combines her skills as a performer and educator to provide unique "sense of place" programs and tools that enrich lives, engage communities, empower creative story-making and inspire stewardship and conservation.
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Raised in 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. In college, when she began writing songs in earnest, Erica was inspired by independent singer.songwriters such as Joni Mitchel, Joan Armatrading, 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.
Erica's music career began in Northampton, MA, an area known as "home" to a host of touring songwriters, and a hotbed for the New England revival of the acoustic music scene. At a local club of national fame, (The Iron Horse Music Hall,) Erica quickly developed from an opening act into a headliner. She honed her skills there, watching artists like Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Suzanne Vega in the 170-seat room.

Erica was also a frequent participant in the Northampton Songwriter Group, which then included fellow songwriters Dar Williams, Cliff Eberhardt, Annie Gallup, Jim Henry and more.
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In 2001, after a decade of touring and witnessing the growing sprawl that was changing many of her favorite places, she decided to bring her work full circle, creating her 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 up north of Northampton, Massachusetts in the hilltown of Colrain with too many guitars and books, and with her partner Liz and their cat Arrow. Their home is a 100-year-old little house beside a rushing brook, surrounded by her neighbor's 750-acre dairy and maple sugar farm.

updated 3 weeks ago