by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
When Director Mark Pellington met FilAm singer/ songwriter Ron Irizarry for the first time earlier this week he noticed a tattoo on Irizarry’s arm that read “La Esperanza Muera Ultima.”
“What does it mean?” Pellington asked.
“Hope dies last,” said Irizarry.
The tattoo came as a surprise to Pellington, according to Irizarry recalling the event. Pellington had just finished a movie Henry Poole is Here about a man [Luke Wilson] who had lost hope only to find it again from the people he lived with in suburbia.
For Irizarry, the tattoo was just a reminder to never give up on his career.
So it came as no surprise that when Irizarry arrived to Los Angeles as the winner of the Henry Poole Is Here movie theme song contest, Pellington knew he found the right man and the right song to fit the movie.
“It’s like everything is fitting together,” said Irizarry to the Asian Journal. Irizarry was in Los Angeles shooting the music video [directed by Pellington] of the song. “It’s like I’m supposed to be here.”
Henry Poole is Here the movie is set to be released later this summer or possibly fall. It was an official Sundance selection.
Last week, after a month and about 3,500 submissions nationwide Myspace Music, Overture Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, and Pellington, chose Irizarry’s song “Henry Poole is Here” as the official theme song of the movie.
“It’s amazing how you captured the movie just by watching the trailer,” said Pellington, who announced the winner of the contest on movie’s official myspacetv.com post.
“We [Irizarry and co-writer Joel Wild] wanted to take it from the darkest places we both experienced and try to tap in to that,” said Irizarry to Pellington. “That’s what [the trailer] looked like a place of desperation and wanting to find hope and breaking through that desperation.”
For Irizarry the song has an even more special meaning. Winning the contest was not only a way to be recognized by the mainstream but also possibly the start of a career breakthrough.
Dark times are nothing new for an artist trying to break through the ultra competitive music industry. The song is apropos for the movie but even more fitting for the 36-year-old Orlando native who has had his shares of ups and down.
“I just identified with the main character [Henry Poole],” said Irizarry. “The images in the trailer when I saw [Wilson’s] face look down and out; when I saw that and when I saw his face; I could identify those times in my life.”
In the late 1990’s when he began his career, he thought his career was on the rise. For two years, he toured with and opened for mega boy band NSYNC. He also opened for Jordan Knight, Pink, Sisqo, and Mandy Moore.
Hanging out with Justin Timberlake and the other artists had a profound impact on Irizarry. He thought he could branch off on his own but he soon found that individual success was harder to come by.
“I got turned down by a lot of record labels,” he said. “Add that to personal things and it just collided and made a perfect storm of negativity and I fed into it.”
He said about five or six years ago, he sat inside his living room depressed contemplating about where his career was heading when an interesting news program turned on. The program featured an author who wrote a book about keeping hope alive.
The author was Studs Turkel and his Hope Dies Last book struck a chord in Irizarry. He immediately bought the book. The first page he turned to read “La Esperanza Muera Ultima” or “Hope dies last.”
“I got that tattoo on my arm,” he said. “It’s for whenever I need something to look at, I know there’s hope and this is all about hope.”
From then on, Irizarry said he rebounded from that negative experience and kept a positive outlook.
Music has been his career since he could remember – his dad took him to a concert at the age of 13 where he knew this was his career passion – and giving it up was too unfathomable.
He began to tour the college circuit nationwide and for two years from 2003 to 2005, he received the “best solo artist” award in the college scene.
“It’s always good to be recognized,” he said.
He also partnered with Joel Wild to write and produce music for other bands.
One of the music bands he wrote for in 2007 was The Clark Brothers, who won the Fox Networks talent competition The Next Great American Band.
At the same time, he continued to open up for acts including One Republic, Jimmy Eat World, Erykah Badu, Nas, J. Holiday, and many more.
Although Irizarry admits he has not “received that level of success yet,” he hopes to headline his own show one of these days.
“You know there’s a saying that anything with value easy to obtain is not worth doing,” he said. “If you did it with ease, you won’t have that same amount of appreciation for the value of it. There are always challenges and what I found is that there’s no formula for success. If there’s any kind of formula, it’s to learn as much as you can until something pops. It’s very challenging but if you get some of kind of payoff it’s really rewarding.”
He said that winning the contest might give him that chance he’d been hoping for.
For more information about Henry Poole is Here the movie or Irizarry’s official theme song please check out http://www.myspace.com/ronirizarry.