Maggie Wheeler is best known for her work as an actress, most notably as the character of Janice on NBC’s hit series Friends. In addition to her acting and voiceover work, Wheeler is a singer-songwriter, choir director, and workshop facilitator. She has been teaching vocal workshops nationwide for the past 25 years.
She spent her childhood years at a summer camp in Vermont, run by Pete Seeger’s brother, where she developed an interest in folk music. Later, she also developed an interest in gospel music and spirituals, as well as in the music of Africa.
One summer during an outdoor music festival in Washington, DC, she found herself seeking shelter from a sudden storm under a tent with the women of Sweet Honey in the Rock, who were rehearsing to go on stage. It was there that Wheeler says she realized the power of signing in community.
She went on to study with Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mabazo, and the late Marion Williams. Wheeler even put together her own a capella group, based in New York City, called Sons & Daughters, mentored by Barnwell.
When Wheeler’s acting work required her to move to Los Angeles, she had to leave the music of Sons & Daughters. But nearly two decades later, she began teaching vocal workshops and rediscovered her love of music.