Don’t Stop Believin’: Arnel Pineda’s Story

Teachers: The story below is at the low-intermediate level. At the bottom of this page, you will find the story in a Word document and in a pdf. Also at the bottom of the page is a link to the official video of Journey’s live performance in Manila. More teaching ideas for this song–including a vocabulary-preview activity for the story–are under “Lesson Plans.”

After we read this story in class, one of my students asked, “Is it true?” To the best of my knowledge, the story is true.

Arnel’s Long Journey

The members of the band Journey didn’t know what to do. In 1997, their lead singer, Steve Perry, had quit the band because of health problems. Now, ten years later, they still hadn’t found a new lead singer. They needed a singer with Steve’s energy and strong, high voice, but they couldn’t find anybody like Steve. And the band was getting older. How much longer could they wait?

The band’s guitarist decided to look at YouTube videos. “Maybe the band will get lucky,” he thought. “Maybe we’ll find our new lead singer on YouTube.” He searched for performers singing Journey hits and found Arnel Pineda.

Arnel Pineda was the lead singer in a band in the Philippines. A friend of Arnel’s had posted several videos of Arnel singing. In one video, he was singing a Journey song. “He could be the one we’re looking for,” the band thought. They contacted Arnel and asked him to come to San Francisco for an audition. Arnel flew to San Francisco and sang with the band. They knew immediately that they had found their new lead singer.

Arnel’s journey to the band Journey was a long, difficult one. When he was 13 years old, his mother died of heart disease. Medical bills left his family bankrupt and six months behind in their rent. Arnel’s father had no home for Arnel and his three younger brothers. He asked relatives to take care of the boys, but Arnel ended up living on the streets.

For two years, Arnel slept anywhere he could—sometimes in a park, sometimes on a bench in front of a friend’s house. He made money anyway he could—sometimes selling scrap metal, sometimes collecting bottles. Then he began to sing for money. He joined one band, then another, and then another. He became a popular singer in the Philippines. Then the band Journey found him.

Arnel joined Journey in 2007. Two years later, he returned to the Philippines with the band for a concert in Manila. At the end of the song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Arnel said, “To all the homeless and the hungry, sending out a prayer: Don’t stop believin’.”

Arnel’s Long Journey.docx          Arnel’s Long Journey.pdf

Official music video: Live in Manila

Story: Copyright © 2017 Sandra Heyer. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reproduce for classroom use.

Photo: Copyright © Dundanim | Reprinted with permission.