March 6, 2013
The guitar is the thing for Cheryl Wheeler
Courtesy photo
Singer/songwriter Cheryl Wheeler performs Saturday in a Woody Hawley show with on-stage seating in the Maier Performance Hall.


Cheryl Wheeler

With Kenny White

WHERE: Clay Center

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday


INFO: 304-561-3570 or

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --Singer/songwriter Cheryl Wheeler never set out to be a folk singer. She just didn't want to have to work for a living.

The 61-year-old, who headlines Saturday's Woody Hawley Series show, said, "I didn't want to ever have to get a job. My goal in life wasn't to have a folk music career; it was to not have to work, so I could play the guitar all the time if I wanted to -- and I did want to."

Wheeler began playing guitar early. She got a ukulele when she was 10, and by the time she turned 12, she had her first guitar. A short time later, she started playing coffee houses and wherever else she could find to play in her hometown of Timonium, Md.

"They were just little, tiny gigs," she said.

But eventually, she found herself performing in clubs in and around the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area. This lasted for several years, until she left Maryland for New England in the mid-1970s.

Still, for someone who set out not to work, she's managed to stay pretty busy. Over the years, Wheeler has recorded more than a dozen albums, appeared on dozens more, and her songs have been covered by lots of people: Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks and Suzy Boggess, just to name a few.

A few of these covers have been hits. The best known is probably Dan Seals' take on Wheeler's song, "Addicted," which became a No. 1 country hit in 1988. More recently, Blake Shelton covered it in 2011.

Wheeler has written a lot of songs, but she said the best songs really seem to come out of nowhere.

"One time, I was working on a song called 'North Girl,'" she said. "I just woke up, went to the sofa -- I didn't even go to the bathroom. I picked up the guitar and sang the song from beginning to end."

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