With bold, genuine statements like, “Music is my life,” followed by a half-embarrassed laugh, Madison singer-songwriter Karen Wheelock exudes a warm and bubbly authenticity. Casually sincere while stylishly attired, Wheelock’s sweet demeanor hides a driving thirst to experience life whole-heartedly; reaping a rich resume that includes on-line magazine editor, half of an acoustic duo, coordinating a benefit album, singing at nursing homes and tackling other musician’s promotion duties. A shy person who blossoms on record and stage, she is a hard-worker behind the scenes who recently managed to write and produce a showcase EP, “Imaginary Girl.” Full of heartfelt writing and a strong voice that trails easily off into a whisper or blossom into robust proportions, “Imaginary,” reflects Karen’s all-in aspirations, sentimental melancholy and eager self-reflection.
Grit and determination comes naturally to Karen, who grew up working the 240 acre family farm, but patience and compassion grew after encountering Alzheimer’s through her grandmother and mother. A demure dynamo that started public singing in kindergarten choirs and continued throughout college, Wheelock always was a team-player who, “likes to keep it real.” A childhood dream of becoming a back-up singer took a pragmatic turn when Karen became a Theater and Communications major at Beloit College, but as she branched out into playing guitar, recording her performances for YouTube and exploring her feelings through song-writing, the solo route seemed a natural next step. That it at times took the form of music therapy was unexpectedly fitting for someone with Ms. Wheelock’s community spirit.
A Lords of Trident pin tacked onto her guitar strap and a Leonard Cohen song on her lips, Karen is a ravenous music fan with tastes ranging from punk to folk. She says she likes, “honest music,” and can often be found hugging the stage and chatting with the bands after their set. She solicited advice from indie-rocker Cary Brothers and even struck up a correspondence with art-pop singer Meiko, whose introspective odes and DIY lifestyle matches Wheelock’s positive outlook and gung-ho attitude. Encouraged to express herself in song, Karen’s first attempts were less than spectacular, particularly when a love song she wrote for her college guitar-playing boyfriend was met by a luke-warm response that inspired her to break off the relationship but also challenged her to write more, better songs.
Ever the explorer, Karen has learned a lot playing solo, but yearns to be a part of a band. “I think the whole purpose of sharing music with each other is to connect and relate to each other,” she says, “and besides, it just feels nice to be onstage with other people!” She wants to sharpen her song-writing and expand into piano, admitting she tends to sing sad songs despite her cherry exterior. Finally, Karen would like to meet Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters; an ardent admirer half her life, she likes to dream big and, like the songs she chases, she likes to keeps things interesting, focused and full of feeling. For more information, check out www.reverbnation.com/karenwheelock.(2550) Page Views Karen Wheelock Online:
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CD: Imaginary Girl Record Label: self-release