A transplanted New Englander for nearly 30 years, Cheryl Wheeler has performed in Maine many times during her career. Not all of her trips to the Pine Tree State were of a professional nature.

“I love to just go up to Maine at times,” Wheeler said in a telephone interview earlier this week from her home in Massachusetts. “If you have a chance to go to Maine, why wouldn’t you. I love Maine.”

Her next trip across the Piscataqua River into Maine will take her to Lewiston next Thursday for a Cabaret Series performance at the Ramada Inn for L/A Arts.

A gifted storyteller, Wheeler is a singer/songwriter who effectively mixes touching and sentimental folk songs with funny stories and humorous ditties. She takes audiences for an emotional ride where tears and laughter easily flow.

Her signature approach to performing live was an easy choice for Wheeler.

“It seemed to be the most natural way to communicate with a crowd of people,” Wheeler said.

The native of Maryland learned music on a ukelele before taking up the guitar. But she never pursued a career in music until her early 20s after attending college.

Wheeler toured the folk scene in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore regions before packing up and heading to New England in 1976.

It was at the Salt Theater, a small club in Newport, R.I., where Wheeler’s career path first intersected with Jonathan Edwards. After opening for him that evening, Wheeler eventually joined his band to sing and play bass and rhythm guitar. An early mentor, Edwards eventually produced some of Wheeler’s early albums.

“Jonathan was a huge influence on my approach to singing,” said Wheeler.

Her songs have found a home with other artists. “Aces” was one of Suzy Bogguss’ biggest country hits, while Dan Seals’ rendition of “Addicted” reached No. 1 on the country charts. Garth Brooks, Bette Midler, Peter Paul & Mary and Kathy Mattea are among the better known artists to have covered songs penned by Wheeler.

Wheeler has finished recording a new CD, which she said will be released Feb. 8. Titled “Defying Gravity,” the album is her first in two years.

“It’s kind of a quiet little record. I like it,” Wheeler said. “There are a few songs, old ones, that haven’t been recorded. A few new ones. There’s a Jesse Winchester song.”

Concentrating on universal themes like family and relationships, Wheeler’s writings mostly have avoided topics like politics and current events. While she holds strong beliefs on the current climate, she’s not interested in tackling those subjects.

“It’s just nothing to sing about in my opinion,” Wheeler said. “I couldn’t get close enough because I’m so mad and I’m so filled with vitriol. I have nothing constructive to say.

“There’s so much to appreciate, so much beauty. I’m just going to pay attention to that. At least for today.”


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