By Steve Houk
Ted Davis is a 17 year-old kid with a plan. Sounds like an oxymoron, a teenager with a plan, but here’s a young man who already seems to know what he wants, and that’s not just a career as a musician, but also a strategy of how to succeed in the music industry.
“Every musician can say they have a backup plan,” Davis said. “I want my backup plan to be something that interests me, and something I could make a living doing. I’ve seen how hard it can be to make it as a performing musician, and while that’s what I want to do with my life, I also want to have a backup plan.”
And that’s why his recent acceptance to the GRAMMY Foundation’s GRAMMY Camp this summer is such a big deal. A soon-to-be rising senior at T.C. Williams, Davis is one of only 132 students across 28 states who after a challenging submission process, recently got his “golden ticket,” a coveted slot in the 11th annual GRAMMY Camp. There are three camps, one in Nashville, one in Los Angeles, and the one Davis will be attending in early August in Brooklyn.
“From its first summer 11 years ago through today,” said Neil Portnoy, President/CEO of The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, “I’ve seen the GRAMMY Foundation’s GRAMMY Camp grow into a hallmark program that gives young people a truly immersive summer learning experience in all aspects of the music business.”
Students choose “career tracks” that appeal to their various interests, and for someone like Davis, a drummer with an interest in performing, the varied facets of the GRAMMY Camp experience are perfect for what he is seeking, an opportunity to also look at alternative ways – that backup plan — to make music your career, even if being on stage doesn’t pan out.
“Obviously performing is my dream,” Davis said. “Realistically, there’s a good chance that won’t happen, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find something within the industry. While there are many opportunities to perform and practice music, there’s only one opportunity to perform and practice while learning about the music industry, with some of the best teen musicians under the instruction of some of the best musicians in the country, and that opportunity is GRAMMY Camp.”
Davis, son of Rich Davis & stepmom Tylynn Gordon of Del Ray and mom Terry Davis of Alexandria’s Braddock Heights neighborhood, is a member of the band Brunch Village and a founding participant in Rock of Ages Music Company (ROAM) in Del Ray, and writes his own music as well. He first fell for the drums at 6 when he became a drummer boy in local Revolutionary War reenactments, but it wasn’t until a few years later that two unique experiences helped shift his interest to where it is now: rock and roll.
“I wanted to play fife and drum music, then when I was like 10, my Dad took me to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and watching Steve Ferrone drum live on stage showed me that I wanted to be a rock drummer. Around that time I also got to play at a rehearsal with Blondie, my mom had met one of their roadies outside her office. So then I made a drum set out of buckets around my house. Eventually I got a real drum set and started a band and became a rock drummer.”
Davis’ stepmom read about the GRAMMY camp online and passed the idea on to Davis. After submitting two well-done submission videos as part of the application process, Davis was chosen. Dad Rich Davis hopes the experience will be a valuable one for his son, on a couple of levels.
“We’re hoping GRAMMY Camp challenges Ted as a performer,” Rich said, “that it reinforces his passion for music and also offers him a window into the music industry as a whole. Above all, we hope it will be an opportunity for Ted to form lasting friendships with a group of extremely talented and passionate young musicians.”
For Ted, it’s all about gaining traction in a career doing something he loves.
“As long as I’m making music, in some way, at some point in my life, I’m good.”