Cheryl Arena

Biography

Cheryl sizzles with excitement as she mesmerizes audiences with her sultry voice and powerhouse energy. She is a triple threat- a great songwriter, vocalist and blows harp like there's no tomorrow...

Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, she began playing harmonica and immersing herself into the Blues in 1987. Boston was an inspiring place to be as she was surrounded by so many talented harmonica and horn players. Her earliest childhood memories relating to music were listening and singing along with her mother's Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday records. At the age of 8 she began taking lessons on the accordion which in hindsight might have been what led her to the harmonica at the age of 15. Leaving the lessons behind and being a total ear player she soon got frustrated with the harmonica, only having one harp in the key of G and she gave up after only playing for one year trading it in for a guitar.

Several years later at a jam session with her bass guitar in tote, she saw a harmonica player with several harps and asked the daunting question "why do you have so many harps?"..after finding out the "secret"..it was the key to unlock the door and the next day she bought a whole set of harps and it was on! She knew this was her calling so she went looking for a job that she could support herself with and at the same time focus on practicing harmonica...that job was driving limos.

And for the next 4 years she spent most of her time behind the wheel of a big black stretch practicing her harp while waiting for clients. Almost immediately she was out testing the waters at jam sessions around town and within a year or so she had established her own Blue Monday Night Jam at Wally's Cafe in the south end of Boston, a stone's throw from Berklee College of Music, which she ran for 3 years... By then it was time to quit the limo job and go full time as a musician which she has been doing since 1991. Her next project was holding a steady Tuesday night gig which ran for 6 years at the Marketplace Cafe in the Historical Fanueil Hall...this was different than a jam..it was more like an invitational jam where the house band changed every week and featured different guest artists.

This was by far some of the best schooling she could have ever had, playing with some of the most talented local, regional and at times national artists that would come through town who had heard about the "scene" at the Marketplace. But alas the place got sold and that was the end of that...next stop...the road. Since then Cheryl has been touring nationally and internationally now for many years either fronting her own band or as a side person with others like Andrew Jr. Boy Jones, Johnny Rawls and Big Bill Morganfield, to name a few.

She has recorded on several cds with her most recent one, being her 1st solo effort, "Blues Got Me" including 7 original songs, backed by a stellar 7 piece band and produced by Duke Robillard, who also plays on a few cuts.  In 2001 Cheryl started sharing her gift and passion with others teaching harmonica lessons privately and to groups. In 2007 Jason Ricci introduced her to Jon Gindick who was holding one of his harmonica jam camps in Dallas TX. On Jason's recommendation, Jon hired her to teach at his next camp which was held in Tampa Florida later that same year.

Cheryl now teaches at 4 camps a year with Jon, which are held in the "Heart of the Delta" in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  The harmonica has brought her to many exotic places and afforded her a wealth of wonderful experiences! So whether it's on a big stage somewhere fronting her own band, playing an acoustic duo in some cozy little wine bar, singing and playing with a 20 piece orchestra, being a side person in someone else's band, giving harmonica lessons on Skype or teaching at Jon Gindick's Jam camps Cheryl's beloved pocket pal is always close to her side! Cheryl plays Hohner Marine Band harmonicas.

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