Metro Weekly

Heart Like a Wheeler: Cheryl Wheeler

Folk icon Cheryl Wheeler returns to the Birchmere

Cheryl Wheeler
Cheryl Wheeler

“No one has the balls to stand up to the NRA!” Cheryl Wheeler declares. Gun control has long been one of her areas of strongest advocacy and she’s not holding back. “Unlike gay rights, gun control is in a terrible place. No one understands the second amendment.”

Wheeler goes on to dig at the nuances of the “militia” part of the amendment before adding, “If a boat has a sign that says ‘If ship on fire, jump off and swim ashore,’ does that mean we should all be hitting the water or should we wait to see if there is a fire?” Cheryl sees America’s permissive gun laws as the most nefarious example of the death grip that money still has on our political process.

It quickly becomes apparent that Wheeler, if no one else, has more than enough balls to stand up to the NRA. The gifted folk singer even gave up royalties on her song “If It Were Up To Me,” which received a great deal of radio play and eventually was involved in a fundraising project for the Brady Campaign.

For Wheeler, music is a joyful process, and after she started playing guitar at 10, she knew it was how she wanted to spend her life. She finished high school, did a few years of college, and began making music. “I wasn’t going to sit somewhere I didn’t want to be for 8 hours every day just because it was my job,” she says. Initially, she was broke, but “felt like I had a gift” — and was okay with living spartanly for a few years.

The Maryland native is astounded by the progress that America, and specifically this part of the country, has made on gay rights. “My family was supportive,” she says. “But I never imagined we’d have gay marriage.”

In fact, Wheeler is now celebrating 14 years of marriage to her partner, Kathleen. Their marriage, amongst the first legal gay marriages in the country, surpasses only slightly in longevity the life of their dog, Kitty. “They [Kitty and Finn, her other dog] are the greatest blessings that Kathleen and I share. I just don’t feel like we’d be done talking if I didn’t mention them.”

Cheryl Wheeler and John Gorka will be performing at The Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va. on Saturday, December 5th. Tickets are $35. Visit or call 703-549-7500.

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