by Momar Visaya/AJPress
NEW YORK – Arnel Pineda and more and more Filipino Artists are making that journey into the mainstream
The Arnel Pineda phenomenon continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
First up was GQ, then now Time Magazine. Of course, there’s also the Ellen de Generes Show and CBS News’ Sunday Morning.
It’s not everyday that we get to see fellow Filipinos being featured by these mainstream publications (and T V shows) so when GQ devoted seven (seven !) pages to Pineda’s rise to mega superstardom, I had to buy my copies and I had to tell my friends about it.
This week, it’s Time Magazine which chronicled Pineda’s ascent to fame. The article entitled “Journey’s Filipino Frontman Welcomed with Open Arms” delved on the band’s 33-year history, and their future now that they have found their main man.
“Thirty-three years after its birth, Journey is getting a second wind from an unexpected place. In December, the band signed on new lead vocalist Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singer who they found leading a Manila cover band on YouTube. Six months later, the band has kicked off a tour of Europe and the U.S. and released Revelation, a new album featuring original songs and re-recorded classics that has already shot up to the fi fth highest-selling album in the U.S. since its debut two weeks ago,” the article said.
Time also likened Pineda’s discovery as that of Cinderella’s.
We all know what happened. Neal Schon turned to the internet to find their band’s vocalist. CBS News said, “Schon searched the web for a voice that could take Journey into the future by doing justice to its past.”
After two days of surfing, he came upon video files of Pineda and his band The Zoo on You-Tube and he was surprised to see (and hear!) Pineda nail all the high notes of the power ballads that the band covered. The band covered everything and everyone from Sting to Led Zeppelin to the Beatles to Styx to Journey. He contacted Pineda and asked him to come to the US to audition.
Pineda could not believe his luck. He could not believe that Neal Schon himself was calling him. “I’m just a guy from the Philippines,” he quipped. Pineda applied for a US visa. That one in itself is an inspiring story. It was serendipity working its magic on one deserving soul.
His path to Journey
Arnel Pineda’s journey to Journey was not a smooth ride at all.
By now, we know what Pineda had to go through to be where he is right now. To say that he struggled would be an understatement. When he was 13, his mother passed away due to a lingering illness. Medical expenses drained the family’s coffers.
“Not wanting to burden his father, Pineda struck out on his own, collecting newspapers and bottles, and living on the street for nearly two years. When he was 15, a friend encouraged him to start singing again, beginning Pineda’s 25-year career as a cover band singer in the Philippines and Hong Kong,” Time Magazine described.
GQ’s article, aptly titled He Didn’t Stop Believin’, focused not just on Journey’s history but also on The Zoo’s story, Pineda’s band before he hit it big time. A great part of the article dwelled on Pineda’s past life.
“Pineda may have the most Dickensian backstory in rock history,” the GQ article said.
This is the rags-to-riches analysis of Pineda’s past. He used to collect scrap metal, bottles and old newspapers. He used to sleep on the park benches in Luneta, “alone or with a group of other homeless kids.” They also drank and bathed from a park’s fountain. What Pineda faced and conquered were tough challenges that could easily break one’s weak soul. He was however, different from the rest. He was strong and he had resolve.
What endears him to his millions of Filipino fans around theworld is that he persevered and he rose from adversity. He was given a hard time but he didn’t complain. He worked his butt off and now he’s reaping the rewards.
The band may have gotten him as a replacement for Steve Perry, and that’s where a lot of web discussions abound. Steve Perry is Steve Perry, and Arnel Pineda will never be a Steve Perry (although he can sound like him) because he has his own style, his own way to charm his audience.
As author Alex Pappademas wrote in the GQ article, “…he is a professional lead singer and a good one, which means he is a virtuoso whose instrument is his own charisma.”