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Turning Adversity Into Musical Triumph
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--
She is all I see
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
copyright T. Onulak
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.
http://youtu.be/TpI-7-cE9kI Probably the most famous of Ted’s songs, Wicked.