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Turning Adversity Into Musical Triumph

Updated on March 31, 2012

Meet Ted.

Introducing Theodore Onulak

“Turning adversity into musical triumph,” is the phrase that my talented friend, Ted Onulak , lives by. Rightly so, this very talented, self taught musician is an inspiration to many. Despite coping with a debilitating eye disease for many years, leaving Ted almost fully blind, he refuses to give up on life, his musical ambitions and his writing. I hope that you will enjoy reading about him and listen to his music.

My tribute to a very special friend.

Theodore Onulak is just an ordinary guy. He loves music, writing poetry, and is even gaining recognition for his short story writing. He stands at 6’, until recently carried a little too much weight, and has a wicked sense of humour. I personally am very biased, because I think he looks good too, and oh that voice, so sexy that it makes me go weak at the knees.

I met Ted in October of last year. Being disillusioned with my life, and recovering from a rather hurtful situation, I decided to try my luck writing for another creative writing site, FanStory. I joined on 22nd October 2011 and posted my first poem. The first review I received was from Ted. He, in his very gentlemanly way, simply told me that my poem was a great attempt and he liked it, but it could be awesome. If I wanted any help, all I had to do was contact him, and the past is history. I will never regret that day I replied, for not only has he encouraged me in leaps and bounds to continue writing poetry, he has opened my eyes to a personality and talent that has become very special to me. We are now, very good friends who mail each other daily and speak on the phone almost every day. Knowing Ted has helped me put my life into perspective, he has been a tonic and an inspiration in my life.

Born to Ukrainian parents, but living in Washington DC for many years, Ted speaks six different languages and is the first to admit, that life as a young musician trying to find his way in life was very difficult.

“I’ve cleaned toilets, swept the roads and worked in the burger bars, washing dishes” he openly tells me.

“My parents were poor, and I had to subsidise my music some way. I am not a proud person, I will do and have done everything imaginable to enable me to play and write my music. Music is my life, it makes me feel alive and grateful for all that I have surrounding me.”

When you listen to Ted talk, you just know that this guy is for real. He shares his love and expertise of fine wine with anyone who cares to listen. He writes the most beautiful poetry about his past, present and future, and is one of the top reviewers on FanStory giving selflessly of himself every day.

He used to work for the US government in the Immigration department, where he was a manager and very well respected. Sadly, as his sight continued to deteriorate, he was forced to give up his position, as it became increasingly more difficult to see the key board. However, although despondent for a short time afterwards, nothing stopped Ted from playing his beloved saxophone; and eventually he started to write his own songs.

Ted played saxophone in several of his local bars to subsidise his government pension, and eventually he was lucky enough to meet more talented musicians, which allowed him to form and manage his own band, Exit 10. Ted speaks of his band,

“They are a great bunch of guys, who bring together a warmth and love of music into a very unique sound that is jazz, blues and rock. We have already produced our first album, Blues Noir, and now our second album, Demimonde is due to be released.”

Ted is so proud of his achievements, but humble too, as he readily states that anyone with a strong mind and ambition, can achieve what they want to do if their desire is strong enough.

One of the things that I admire most about this man is his commitment to his family. His ninety year old mother, who is now suffering from dementia, is living with him. It has been very difficult for Ted to adapt to his role reversal. While his wife Fabiola Amarante, whom Ted refers to as his best friend, goes out to work to provide for the family. He cooks all the meals and looks after his moms needs. He constantly makes me laugh when he describes his mom as feisty and a pain in the butt, but beneath the bravado, the love and respect that he shares for his mother is fantastic.

Ted is in his own words is “an accomplished chef, who can even turn his hand to a full “Thanks giving” menu.” Admittedly, he laughs when he explains away the sliced onion or crumbs that get left on the floor, or the spillage of gravy/sauce when he tries to fill the gravy/sauce boat, in fact he still keeps his sense of humour in all situations.

I am so fortunate to have met Ted, for not only is he a very sweet man and dear friend, he is my inspiration. If he can fight and continue to be strong in the face of adversity, so can I. I have all my senses and will never be able to understand in depth how Ted survives every day, but I am privileged to know him. I have been entrusted with sneak previews of his new album, Demimonde, which is truly spectacular. I have also been given a collection of his songs on disc, sent to me shortly after my birthday; but probably one of the most gifted honours bestowed upon me, is being able to review his artwork for his CD covers. How lucky am I to be valued in such a way?

Ted is currently working on his tour dates with the band, but one not to be missed for me, is his visit to Ireland in October 2012. He will be playing in several venues in the County Down area, staying with me, and enjoying our beautiful countryside through my eyes. What an honour, and one that I will enjoy to its full capacity.

An Example of Ted's Poetry


The art of writing is both passionate and introspective; there is time that must be spent dragging water from the well, the frenzy of putting down an idea before it is lost, then once again reviewing and editing a piece to determine if it does what you want it to do.

The Statue that sleeps in the Stone.

Across cold exteriors
Feeling the flaws and fissures
In the brooding block
That mocks me

Upon my knees
I whisper eternal love
To the lady trapped within
Whose beauty is
Crushed and suffocated
More by those that fail to see her beauty
A fate more cruel
Than the stifling prison itself

Yet, I see her--
Long fingers
Full mouth
Wise eyes
She is all I see
My obsession

I work
Night and day
I must chip slowly
I cannot leave one bruise
Nor single scratch
The sleeping flesh is so delicate
I tap gently not to wake her

Graceful curves appear
The height and breadth of her
As she gently stirs and whispers
Guiding my hands
I surrender my senses to her will
In the cause of liberation

She smiles at me
As I caress her with pumice and fine rasp
Revealing her inner thoughts
With each stroke of my hand

This is how she calls to me
When I glide my hand along the reclining block
As I prepare to gently wake
The statue that sleeps in the stone

opyright T. Onulak

Author Notes
In this piece I hoped to show my own creative process. I'm recording a lot of my own music these days and there's a certain truth that your creation "whispers" to you showing you how to move forward. This holds true for anything from a sculpture to a seduction;)
Thank you google images for the use of this photo

The Wind and I

I hear her softly whisper

Gently through the garden chimes

I pause in sweet reflection

As this night song fills my mind

Each shiv'ring note plays careless

With out rhythm or design

Windblown thoughts come randomly

Of long past forgotten times

Midnight walks that soon became

Lusty games of hide and seek

We'd dash around dark corners

Then this crazy dance repeat

She'd proffer gentle kisses

Or some chilly winter bites

My provocative companion

Chose to always hide from sight

She may leave her calling card

Of a careless cast off leaf

Spinning in exultant breath

And alighting at my feet

Or I watch her hard at play

As she deftly flies right by

Pushing dragons and sailboats

Across a pale autumn sky

The wind and I never plan

Where we will next meet or when

Our hearts spurn captivity

So we are just wayward friends

As the wind softly whispers

Beckoning me to her side

To wander in her currents

Where our moonlit dreams collide

I rush outside to greet her;

She runs fingers through my hair

No telling where we're going

We could wind up anywhere

copyright T. Onulak

Meet Ted and enjoy his music. Probably the most famous of Ted’s songs, Wicked.


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    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Maria, you know what a sweet soul and good friend Ted has been to me, yes past tense! He is one of the most inspirational, kind and charming men I have ever met and will deserve fame and fortune as his talent continues to gain him fans. Love ya hunnie. Net:)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Net,

      I feel privileged that you have already 'introduced' me to Ted and his music over the last few weeks... I cannot imagine a smoother and sexier sound that I have heard of late!

      What an amazing gift that we have our own 'Van Morrison' in our midst... and the details that you have further provided in this outstanding tribute/ review make him even more special to me. I love the inspiration that he has given to your creative process, my Sista!

      Voted UP & UABI. Hugs to both of you, Maria

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Sunnie, I wish you could speak to Ted as I do, you would adore him too. He is filled with the gift of life. His legacy, for which we are trying to raise funds at the moment is to leave a scholarship for a disadvantaged child/disabled child to learn to play a musical instrument. He is truly something completely different in the world of ours. He is what love is all about. xx

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Mike, thank you hunnie for your lovely supportive comment. Ted is an inspiration to us all. Sure, he has his "whoa is me" days but they don't last long until he moves on to gather his thoughts again. x

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Nell, thank you for the lovely comment you have left in support of Ted. He is a real charmer and definitely a ladies man. His talent will go far. Net:)

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Oh Net what a fabulous hub about a wonderful talent. You did a wonderful job introducing this talented man. He is an inspiration to many. Thank you for sharing this very special friend to us.

      Lots of love,


    • mckbirdbks profile image


      6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      You have done a fine job with this hub. It reflects the strength and courage one needs to more than survive but to excell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, Thank you for sharing such a wonderful friend, he is amazing, and I also loved the poetry too, I remember reading that a sculpture never makes a statue, he just releases the hidden person inside, so this made perfect sense to me, wonderful! voted and shared, nell

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi b how are you girlfriend? Yes Ted is a very talented man. He is focused on his career, and yet remains humble of any credit sent his way. He is a very sweet and genuine character. A rare tool in the box lol Net xx

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      Hi Bluestar, this Hub was such a Wonderful Tribute to "Ted" and his many, many, talents. He sounds like a great "Rhythm and Blues" Singer, such an Earthy Voice...and his Poems are Lovely. Thanks for sharing him with us.

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hey Cardissa, how are you baby? Thank you for stopping by to support Ted. You would certainly enjoy him hunnie, he is a real charmer. xx

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Ruby, thank you so much for reading about Ted, and you are so right, his voice is awesome. He has already captured the heart of our dear friend Martie lol He is a totally unique character and a very good friend. :)

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      My dear friend Joyce. I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading my story about Ted. He is a truly inspirational guy. Net:)

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Angie, wow girlfriend, what a lovely encouraging review. Sometimes, out of nowhere comes a talent as rare as Ted, and I am only too happy to promote him and his band. Glad you enjoyed the sound. Ted will be delighted when I tell him. Take care hunnie :)

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      A very inspirational story Annette. Glad you shared it with us. I like rock and he has a great rock and roll voice too, very talented.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I am listening to him sing and play as i respond. He has a great voice. Toe tapping beat..Love it..Your tribute to him and his life story is an inspitition to all. His poetry is beauriful with deep meaning. Thank you for sharing your friend with us. ( Taking care of his 90 year old Mother is a BIG plus ) Cheers

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Annette, I loved reading Ted's story, you did him a great tribute. Your poems are wonderful. Voted up and beautiful, Joyce.

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      Bravo!!! This guy is AWESOME!!!

      And, my goodness, what a wonderful story he has to share!

      You did great on this article girlfriend, and I'm so happy you'll be getting to meet Ted in person!

      He plays beautifully, and you wrote his story so well!

      I'm way impressed that you're tossing in a little journalism with the poetry and short stories. :)

      Proud of you!



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