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Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

9 pm Monday, Sept. 30, on Independent Lens: Young Filipino artist is plucked from YouTube to become frontman for the iconic band Journey.

Journey performing in Manila.

Journey performing in Manila.

Independent Lens gets off to a hard-driving start with the premiere of award-winning filmmaker Ramona Diaz’s delightful Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, the real life rock and roll fairy tale of Filipino Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from YouTube to become the frontman for the iconic American rock band Journey. The film premieres on Independent Lens on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, at 9 pm on WILL-TV.

For Arnel Pineda, who had been performing in small clubs in Manila, the past five years have been the stuff that dreams are made of. In 2007, a friend of Arnel’s began uploading videos of Arnel’s covers of classic rock songs to YouTube. Halfway around the world, Neal Schon, guitarist for Journey, stumbled upon them as he was combing the internet, looking for a singer with the vocal chops to lead the band on its next tour. Blown away by Pineda’s talent and uncanny vocal similarity to former Journey frontman Steve Perry, Schon flew Pineda from Manila to San Francisco to audition for the band.

But Pineda’s personal journey had just begun. With no formal music training, Arnel was anything but prepared for the grueling physical and emotional strains that come from fronting a beloved rock band on a high-stakes whirlwind world tour. Don’t Stop Believin’ follows Pineda as he faces the demands of newfound fame, overcomes hostility and skepticism from fans, and ultimately triumphs thanks to his extraordinary vocal ability.

“This is a quintessentially modern rags-to-riches story, one that could only have happened in this self-referential age of social media,” filmmaker Ramona Diaz says. “And no matter how clichéd it seems, it really is a story of never giving up.”

More info and a preview.