Erica Wheeler is an award-winning songwriter and a sense-of-place speaker, educator and advocate. Her performances and educational programs help to enrich lives, engage communities, inspire stewardship, and evoke a sense of place and belonging that is deeply needed in our world today.
Speaker, Songwriter, Educator & Sense of Place Advocate
In addition to public programs, she specializes in working with parks, conservation organizations, educators, and others whose work involves connecting people and place. Her experience includes keynoting at events from the American Horticultural Youth and Garden Symposium to the National Association for Interpretation and offering professional development trainings for national and state parks across the country.
With six CD's to her credit, her music has charted in the top-ten on Billboard's "Gavin Americana" chart and she has been a featured interview on NPR's "All Things Considered." Her most recent CD, "Good Summer Rain" was sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization.
Her work connecting people and place has been featured in Orion,Yes! and Yankee magazines.
Today, Erica works to help people connect to place and tap into what they care about and why. Knowing that enables us enjoy places more today, and take better care of places for the future.
Erica's sense-of-place work began 30 years ago when she attended Hampshire College as an aspiring wildlife biologist. It was there she also discovered the power of story to inspire conservation and stewardship, often more than research and data alone. She titled her self-designed course of study "A Sense of Self, a Sense of Place," which explored the relationships between people and place.
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 her work came full circle. 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 that inspire stewardship and conservation. Through her performances and educational work, she guides individuals, communities, professionals and organizations in exploring their personal connection to place.
Partial Client List
- National Park Service
- National Association of State Park Directors
- National Association of State Park Volunteer Coordinators
- National Association for Interpretation
- Land Trust Alliance
- National Religious Partnership for the Environment
- American Horticultural Youth and Garden Symposium
- Social Venture Network
- Teton Science School
- Antioch Graduate School
- The Thoreau Institute
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.
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 Mitchell, 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.
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.
In 2001 she offered her first "Soulful Sense of Place" workshop, for the Spring Earth Festival at the Murie Center in Jackson, Wyoming. Home to Mardy Murie, often referred to the as the mother of conservation (whom she got to sing for!) It was there she back to bring her work full circle.
After a decade of touring and witnessing the growing sprawl that was changing many of her favorite places, she decided to more actively offer 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 lives north of Northampton, Massachusetts in the hilltown of Colrain in a 100-year-old little house beside a rushing brook, surrounded by her neighbor's 750-acre dairy and maple sugar farm.