After years of living among and observing human beings and of listening to their music, Ted McVay began to write songs himself. As a teenager in the sixties, he sang harmonies to Dylan’s and Peter, Paul, and Mary’s songs with ukulele-playing majorettes on high school band bus trips. He continued to make friends with folks who played and sang in college and in the army, until he found himself in a stranded-Garfunkel situation while stationed in Korea and bought a guitar. After that, there were long spells without any harmonies except those sung to lps and the radio and years without his touching the guitar. In 2012 he happily discovered that his brain was home to many people who write and sing their own songs, each true to their own character and (sometimes) voices.
Ted began to perform his songs in 2015 at coffee houses, open mics, nursing homes, and songwriter rounds, and in 2017 he recorded and released his first album, Voices in My Head, with the help of some talented people who have become friends. He has played house concerts, and he opened for Dan Navarro at the Sundilla Concert Series. He has performed at the Highway 80 Songwriter Festival in Demopolis, Alabama, and the Opelika (Alabama) Songwriters Festival in 2019 and 2021. His song, Island Paradise, was a finalist in the 2017 Columbus, Georgia, Songwriters Showdown, and in 2019, Danse Macabre, won third place in that competition. In the pandemic year, he moved from Auburn, AL, to Gainesville, FL.
He likes to think of his songs as folk music, but there are some blues- and country-sounding songs in the mix as well. Although he tries to let each song stand on its own and rarely consciously imitates the styles or themes of others, he is fully aware that there are unconscious influences from many years of listening to music, ranging from Neil Young to the Beatles and Hank Williams, from John Prine to Paul Simon and Tom Waites. His hope is that each song will reach someone who can find a connection between it and their lives.
“I got voices in my head” sings Ted McVay in the first line of the first song on his first album, and fortunately for listeners, he’s not lying. But these aren’t the voices that drive some people to do crazy things; no, these are the voices of the characters who will ultimately inhabit his songs. And it’s quite a diverse cast, which leads to songs from a variety of perspectives, with a bevy of protagonists, experiencing life in every way and from every direction. You might never know what is coming next but that’s a positive thing, especially since the chances are good that you’re going to like it.
—Bailey Jones, Sundilla Concert Series and Radio Hour
Ted McVay displays his diverse musicality, his wry wit, and his heart on his wonderful debut album, Voices in My Head. A fun listen from beginning to end!
—Wildman Steve Bronson, Wildman Steve Radio
Ted McVay… is one of EPAC’s favorite entertainers. The professor will open our show with his sometimes whimsical, often satirical songs that’ll make you smile and think outside-the-box.
—Equality Performing Arts Center
I always have all these funny images and lines and hypothetical situations bouncing around in my head after one of Ted McVay’s shows. Wonderful last concert of the series…
—Emma Dansak, organizer, St. Dunstan’s Summer’s Eve Music Series