Global Songwriters Member Spotlight
Ken Matejka, Songwriter
Ken was born, raised, and currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. On his 9th birthday, his parents made a financial sacrifice and surprised him with a life-changing gift…a piano! His adventure began. After eight years of music lessons, he was accepted at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music.
At the end of his sophomore year, he left CMU, performed with a folk/pop quartet, and studied acting at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. But too many ketchup sandwiches convinced him it was time to prepare for a different career.
Ken got a degree in business management from Point Park College. When duty called, he served two years in the U.S. Navy (in Japan), where he met a wonderful woman (Sally) from Arkansas. After his discharge from the service, they got married and moved to Kansas City, where Sally worked while Ken got his MBA. They moved again and he earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Management from the University of Arkansas (thanks, in large part, to his uncle Sam’s G.I. Bill). In his “day job” as a university professor, he has taught at the University of Arkansas, the University of Richmond, and Duquesne University. Ken published a few books, including “Hook ‘em” and “Why This Horse Won’t Drink.”
Ten years ago, the “muse” enticed him to write songs again. Ken and his creative daughter (Anastasia) wrote two musicals, one of which (“Losing Your Faculties”) was performed in Pittsburgh.
Due to the lack of a clear “support system” in the musical theater arena, he turned his attention to learning the country songwriting craft. He joined NSAI (and later became a regional coordinator for three years) and attended all of the educational events that they had to offer. Ken, Sally, and their dog DUQ, have made so many road trips to Nashville that they think of it as their second home.
In 2010, Ken retired from teaching to pursue songwriting full-time. He credits NSAI and SongU for sharpening his songwriting skills. His first “tiny successes” included getting songs nominated for “Best of SongU”; having his name listed in NSAI’s “Ones to Watch;” licensing a song with Crucial Music; and signing a handful of single-song contracts with publishers. He has had songs chosen for big pitches, and a couple put on hold, but he doesn’t have any “major” cuts yet, just what he calls “small steps along the way.”
A year ago, he joined the Global Songwriters’ Connection and the Tennessee Songwriters Association International. These two groups have provided him with marvelous support and valuable pitch opportunities to publishers, producers, and artists.
The past few months have brought Ken some encouraging blessings. Thanks to a pitch at Global Songwriter’s Connection, James Robert Webb recorded one of Ken’s songs (“2000 Years”) for his 2013 Christmas album. In January 2014, Ken learned that a song he co-wrote eight years ago (“3 Days to Live”) will be the “title song” for an April 2014 release of an album by an award-winning Swiss country band (“Barbarella and Red Rock”). He recently had the honor and pleasure of teaming with Linda Marcus (a pop/choral lyricist “icon”) to write the words for a tribute to the children of Newtown, Connecticut (“Unfinished Melodies”). The premiere of this choral piece is scheduled for March 2014, in Racine, Wisconsin. In January, 2014, the tribute received a “Silver Platter” award from ChoralNet.
Ken’s songwriting goal is to become a “one-hit wonder”… in three different genres… country, pop, and Christian! Thanks to luck, skill, and God’s will, the dream is alive and his journey continues!
You can hear some of his songs at: www.songu.com/members/kenmatejka