American singer dedicates latest album to soldiers who fought in Marawi

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Feb) – American singer-songwriter Rockwell Ryan Ripperger, who founded the international acoustic/pop rock band Stephen Speaks, has dedicated his latest album to the soldiers who fought in the five-month battle of Marawi and vowed he would donate to them a portion of his proceeds from his Philippine concert tour.

Rockwell Ryan Ripperger and saxophonist Paul Chatman at SM City Davao. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

Ending his 40-day Philippine tour with a free concert at SM City Davao on Monday sponsored by JB Music Philippines, Ripperger said he hopes the soldiers would get inspired by his song, “Alive to Fight,” also the name of his latest album to be completed by August 2018.

“I’m sure there’s somebody here, maybe a lot of you are just like the soldiers, you think you’ve lost everything but you remain alive to fight another day and don’t give up,” said the voice behind the hit songs “Passenger Seat” and “Out of My League.”

He hopes to return to the Philippines by September to launch his album

Ripperger said that he got inspired writing his latest album after going through personal battles, most especially that turbulent year in his married life, to remind himself that he was “alive to fight.”

“I basically woke up that I feel like I lost everything that matters to me and the only thing I do in moments like that is I write a song. I told myself I’m alive to fight,” he said. “People walk on, keep going, keep fighting when you fall down, you get beat down. The world is gonna beat you down, you get back up, and you keep going because you are alive to fight.”

Rockwell Ryan Ripperger and saxophonist Paul Chatman at SM City Davao. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

Just as he was working on his album, the battle of Marawi broke out on May 23 and he wished to perform before the brave soldiers to honor their bravery and sacrifices to liberate the lone Islamic city from the influence of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group.

The opportunity came on February 17 as he performed for the soldiers at Camp Fort Bonifacio in Taguig.

“We donated about half of ticket sales from my tour to the wounded soldiers to help them and their family for their sacrifices and I told them, I said ‘I don’t know all your stories, I don’t know how much of you guys sacrificed. I’m sure a lot of you lost friends’,” he said.

Ripperger also wishes to visit Marawi and create a music video there.

“I wanna make a music video for that song with the footage of the soldiers. I don’t know how it’s gonna work yet but I wanna do it,” he added.

Ripperger gave Dabawenyo fans a sneak peek of his album as he performed some of the latest – “Alive to Fight” and “Walk On” – during his concert at the SM City. He serenaded his fans with his other original compositions and cover of “Sunday Morning,” “I’m Yours,” “Best Day of My Life,” “Pompeii,” “Cry Me a River,” and “Give Me Baby One More Time,” among others.

The mall was filled with boisterous cheers when he ended his performance with “Passenger Seat,” his song released in 1999, with saxophonist Paul Chatman.

The artist said the Philippines is very close to his heart because the Filipinos can connect more to his music as he gets “more plays and more views in the Philippines than any other country by far,” and dedicating one of his works to the Filipinos is a way of paying back for their support.

“And so, a lot of people said to me, why do you think the Philippines connects with Stephen Speaks so much? I said, I think ‘coz I’m romantic dreamer and I think the country as a whole, the Filipino people are very romantic, sweet, passionate, dreamers,” he said.

He said he “would not be able to do what I do for a living” without the support of the Filipinos for his music.

“Like love songs, and I write love songs, the entire country is very close to my heart. I love the culture, I love the people. I just love the Filipinos,” Ripperger said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)