The following is the text of an article about me in the April 18, 2015 issue of The Jackson Sun:
"Art Wheeler always tries to find an interesting perspective for the songs he writes. A member of Grace United Methodist Church, he writes, performs and records both religious and non-religious songs.
"As far as religious music ... I try to take familiar stories from the Bible and do a little different perspective on some of those stories," Wheeler said.
He said he often takes the perspective of a member of the crowd who just happened to be there. His song "Water to Wine" tells the story of someone following Jesus around and witnessing miracles. His song about the book of Job tells the story from the perspective of the devil.
I have written music off and on throughout my life. Most of the things I did early in my life weren’t work keeping around. There are bits and pieces of this music stored away in drawers at my father’s house but it’s really not worth digging up. Sometime around 1998 or 1999, I started work on the song that would become The Belly of the Whale. At the time, I lived in Livingston, Tennessee. We only lived there three years and my youngest child was born while we were there. She might have been born before I started working on this song. At the time, I felt that I was being moved to minister to people that I really didn’t like. By writing this song, I attempted creatively address this feeling.
I have written in a previous blog post about one of my 4-H experiences. For a couple of years in high school, I participated in 4-H as a member of a crop judging team. I spent a lot of time learning how to identify different types of seeds. I spent very little time learning how to evaluate hay which seemed to be the more important part of the competition. Anyway, I learned a little about crops and had a great time. We would go to competitions at the Mid-South Fair in Memphis. But the one that really counted was at the West Tennessee State Fair in Jackson. This was also my first exposure to the 4-H Chicken Shack.
"The Promised Land"
In an earlier post, I talked about writing and recording both versions of The Promised Land. I wanted to do a black gospel choir arrangement for the background vocals. Most people who know me know that I play music primarily by ear. I can read music, but I'm not very good at it. Practically all of the other songs that I have recorded are arrangements that existed only in my head prior to the sessions or were developed during the recording process. For this recording, I felt the a little more planning was in order.
I started with a music notation software called Finale. I was able to put together the harmonies that I wanted and plan the arc of the song. The software is flexible enough to allow me to preview the arrangements. I put together a final plan for the song and printed out a copy to use during the session. A few nights ago, I was going through my records and found the arrangement. I compared the sheet music to what I actually recorded and they are relatively close. There are a few places where I thought I needed a note to be flat when it didn't. There is one whole section where my arrangement goes higher than I am able to go. I did adjust during the recording, but the planning gave me a basic idea about how I wanted to stack the harmonies and made the adjusting easier.
The photo is from the first page of an attempted transcription of the recording. It is not a copy of the original document that I recorded from. If you are interested in getting a .pdf copy of the transcription or a .pdf of the original arrangement, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make a request at the bottom of the home page of my website. Please specify which one you want. I will send both if you are interested. I'll also put you on my mailing list for other exclusive information about my music.
I wrote the song The Promised Land to sing during the memorial service at a church homecoming. The church I grew up in has a homecoming celebration every year on the second Sunday in June. Most of the people that go to this church are related to my mother. The same goes for the people that come to the homecoming celebration every year. For several years, I had been asked to sing special music immediately after the memorial section of the service. I usually tried to sing something that fit the tone of the memorial. I wrote this song probably about a year after my mother had past away. I wanted to try and write something special for her. As I approached writing the song, I thought about a lady in the congregation we called Aunt Erin who had written something special for homecoming. She read it as the memorial service every year when I was younger. I thought about how poetic her writing was and wished that I could set that to music. I never tried very hard to find her memorial service. I’m not sure but her memorial service could have died with her. I hope not.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller