Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Don't Stop Believing: Gaganda Rin 'To (Things Will Get Better)

While waiting to catch a plane home from my honeymoon in Mexico last week, I bought a People magazine. Not something you typically see me read, but shoot, everyone has their guilty pleasures and there wasn't a lot to choose from that wasn't in Spanish.

I never buy People for the worthless celebrity gossip at the front of the mag, but the stories in the back about the "real" people that make a difference in this world. I told Jason, this is my chocolate and porn in a sense -- I literally am addicted to seeing and reading about others doing inspiring things.

Well, part of my excitement while reading the mag was over a celebrity/real person mash-up composed of one of the greatest classic rock bands of all time -- Journey and a 'real' person.

In case you haven't heard the story yet, Journey's front man, Steven Perry left the band to do his own thing years ago (BOOOO!)... To replace him, they grabbed Jeff Scott Soto, but ended up firing him last summer. In my mind, the band members must have figured they'd never find a voice quite like Steve's (streetlights, people -ah-oh-ah!), until one day...they stumbled upon YouTube and ran across a Journey song video with a singer from the Philippines -- Arnel Pineda. (Oh the effects of social media!)

The coolest thing about Arnel is his story. The guy began singing at age 5. His parents, both tailors, encouraged him to enter amateur singing contests. When Arnel was 12, his mother died of illness, leaving his family in some serious debt. Arnel's father took his three younger brothers to live with relatives, but Arnel, the oldest, had to quit school and collect scrap metal, bottles and newspapers to earn money. He was living in the streets, sleeping at a park or on a wooden bench at a relative's house. In a TV interview, Pineda described waiting and watching while his relatives ate breakfast in the mornings, hoping some food would be left over for him to eat. Reflecting on his childhood, Pineda said he felt no self-pity. He always kept a positive outlook, thinking, "Gaganda rin 'to." (Things will get better).

Pineda was discovered while he was the lead singer for the group "The Zoo," which covered American classic rock hits from bands such as Journey, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.

Videos of The Zoo performing cover songs began appearing on YouTube in February 2007. In June, Neal Schon of Journey contacted Noel Gomez, a longtime fan and friend of Arnel who uploaded many of these videos, to ask for Arnel's contact information. Neal sent an e-mail to Arnel inviting him to audition to be Journey's front man. Arnel initially dismissed the e-mail as a hoax, but after being persuaded, he finally replied to the e-mail. Ten minutes later, Arnel received a phone call and in August, Arnel flew to the U.S. for a two-day audition.

In December, he was announced as the lead singer of Journey. CNN Headline News ran the story as part of their "News to Me" segment. They called it a rock n' roll fairytale. And that's exactly what it is. From a kid who grew up collecting scraps to know being in a band he once idolized...Dreams really do come true -- Any Way You Want It! As long as you have Open Arms. (feeling punny today)

Watch a video about the new singer and hear him belt the lyrics to "Don't Stop Believeing" here. He's pretty flippin' good if you ask me! They are coming to DTE in Clarkston in September. I am seriously contemplating going. If you need some faith, this just may be the show for you, too.

*Cough* Sarah: B-day Present???


Sarah said...

Ahhhhhh I SO want to go! I didn't know about this story.

metrogal84 said...

Tix are bought. We're going!