Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lessons from Arnel Pineda

arnel pineda
The courage to rock!

Growing up, I wanted to be a rock star. That was until I found out I was afflicted with such a chronic form of shyness that I could only really sing to inanimate objects like rocks, trees and a husband watching NBA.

Fine, I thought. I’d be happy to just be a bar singer instead, but I realized that compared to the existing talent pool, my voice sounds like the croaking of a frog with a sore throat and a blocked windpipe.

So I gave up on my dream, determined to make life bearable by looking forward to the breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are the main diversions to my endless workdays. I now only trawl YouTube on weekends for songs to sing when there’s no one within hearing range to cripple with my croaking.

It was on one of these closet singing sessions that I first came across Arnel Pineda’s cover of Heart’s Alone, a song that elicits pity when brave but less gifted singers start to look like they’re about to spit out their tonsils or lose their sanity. As soon as Pineda flawlessly belts out the heart attack inducing wail, AAAAHHLLOOOWNNN… I was a goner and what followed was two days of watching all his videos.

Of course I heard the news when he became Journey’s lead vocalist but other than rejoicing in his good fortune, I paid little attention. I WAS not a Journey fan. I once likened the experience of listening to their overplayed ballads to overdosing on hard cheese.

His life story was therefore a fairly recent discovery for me: homeless and living on scraps at 13; singing in bars at 15; descending into vice and losing his voice at 27; rallying to patch up his life and attempting to start a career but giving up the dream at 40. Enter Neal Schon who finds his cover videos online and invites him for an audition. He gets the job.

Happily ever after? Not quite for this Cinderella in tight pants and leather boots on the other end of the gender spectrum. Listen to his interviews and you’ll realize this is not a simple success story.

A poor man from Manila gets plucked from obscurity and is thrust before rock demigods. Not long after that, he is made to sing before 18,000 live viewers for the first time, a figure that dramatically dwarfs his usual bar audience. 

After this initial trial by fire, he repeatedly performs before thousands more, including unforgiving and vocal critics who cannot accept his presence in an all American band and that he is wearing the shoes of the legendary Steve Perry.

All of a sudden you realize that his life isn’t an invitation for everyone with a dream to upload videos of themselves singing (or hyperventilating) to Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. It isn’t a suggestion that you “don’t stop believin’” you’ll eventually hit those notes if you squint your eyes just a little more.

The message is a lot simpler than that. Courage. Nothing will happen to your life if you do not have the foresight to recognize opportunity and the courage to go after it.   

I’ll probably never be a rock star now but I have other talents besides inducing ear infections among my listeners. I resolve to have the courage to chase my happiness. I deserve to give myself a chance.

15 comments:

  1. He's but a talented and humble singer! i like his songs.

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  2. love his voice! truly a pinoy pride!

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  3. This is such an inspiring story. There's no guaranty that you'll always hit your goals but trying is always a better option.

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  4. Hello:
    Such a story which is very touching indeed. But it is the way in which, from your own, personal perspective, that you introduce the topic which is so very arresting and appealing. And remember, it is never too late to be discovered!! Or so we like to think!

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  5. we live in a democratic country where you can express yourself as long as you don't invade the right of others... i think you can sing all you want, malay mo... Yahweh bless.

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  6. He may not be my type of a singer... but he is really inspiring as a person... and his story sparks up hope

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  7. Such an inspiration. Pinoy talent that we should be proud of. I like his voice. Mabuhay ang galing Pinoy!

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  8. His story is really an inspiration. :-)

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  9. yes, never stop believing and go for it,keep trying. I like Arnel's story very insipiring .

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  10. Despite being world-famous, Arnel remained humble. I like him because of this attribute.

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  11. 'Don't Stop Believing'. I keep having to remind myself of this, at my age, hahahahaha! Thanks for the reminder, Ms G. I think we all need to be reminded of this.

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  12. His life story is really inspiring, Ms. Grace.

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  13. Arnel Pineda is truly inspiring for everyone who has ever dreamed. Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. :)

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  14. I truly enjoy it and find all the information very helpful..thanks for sharing for good post.Foresight CCTV

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  15. I super admire the man - his voice, his life, his story!

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