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Writer’s Recap: A tapestry of storied songs in Innersoul’s ‘Lights Off–Beyond the Stars’

In commemoration of 25 years of inspiration and passion, De La Salle Innersoul staged “Lights Off: Beyond the Stars” last November 12 through an exclusive YouTube stream. But it was not simply a concert—“Lights Off” was divided into four acts, labeled as stages, each with storied songs that told of the organization’s struggles and development behind the stage curtain. These songs were poignantly interwoven with alumni testimonies of the hardships, triumphs, and memories during their tenure at Innersoul—creating a tapestry of sound that resonated within the heart.

The long and winding road

The concert opened with a rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s People Like Us: ”Here’s to the damned, to the lost, and forgotten. It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom,” Innersoul’s members sang. The song is a fitting ode to those beginning to grow their craft at Innersoul, and to those who encounter challenges on the difficult path to success.

On the journey to the stars, one can become paralyzed by fear that comes in many forms, such as the fear of failure, uncertainty, or the loss of one’s uniqueness. In an interview shown at the concert, Thea Munji, Innersoul batch 2018, shared that “I think for me…I was afraid to not have my own sound.” Stage One of the concert featured these kinds of fears—and how to combat them.

In the face of fear, Innersoul lifted their voices to Resilient by Katy Perry, Brave by Sara Bareilles, and Change by Taylor Swift, anthems to boost courage amid many trials. “This revolution, the time will come for us to finally win, and we’ll sing hallelujah,” the members of Innersoul sang, as if calling a fearful and doubting spirit to fight to the tune of Change.

Still, failure can happen even when we try our very best. Stage Two of the concert presented a world of failure and the sinking, all-encompassing feeling that comes with it. Innersoul began a journey through the psyche of failure with a passionate performance of Alicia Keys’s Underdog, which paid respect to the downtrodden who have yet to find their big break

This was followed by a heartfelt serenade of Filipino songs capturing the facets of failure: hope in Martin Nievera’s Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin, regret in Lani Misalucha’s Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin, surrender in Jaya’s Hanggang Dito na Lang and Sharon Cuneta’s Bituing Walang Ningning, and longing in Sarah Geronimo’s Isa Pang Araw and Regine Velasquez’s Narito Ako.

Light at the end of the tunnel

But as Innersoul batch 2005 alumnus Raffy Casas puts it, “Failure isn’t going back one step, but an alternate path to success.” With perseverance, there is light at the end of the long and winding tunnel. The concert thus arrives at Stage Three: redemption. 

Innersoul’s performers belted out tunes like Ariana Grande’s Breathin, Basil Valdez’s Kristo, and Jamie Rivera’s Letting Go—songs that acknowledge the pain and stress of living, but still encouraged listeners to carry on. “It’s the heart that’s got the will to open up for Him to fill, and trusting and believing Him is all we’ve got to do,” Innersoul’s members reassured the audience as they sang Letting Go. 

All journeys must come to an end and those who persevere are duly rewarded. “When it comes to being trained by Innersoul, the group and training prepares you [for the] nuances and little things about being a performer,” Innersoul batch 2012 alumna Bianca Jacinto explained. It is this careful preparation, she holds, that pushes an Innersoul member to the heights of success. 

It is no surprise then that Stage Four of Lights Off revolved around triumph and success. To celebrate a colorful history of successful performances, curtain calls, and boundless growth, Innersoul performed a medley of upbeat songs that reflected renewed confidence and unadulterated joy. Songs like Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca, Justin Bieber’s Baby, Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music, and Lady Gaga’s The Edge of Glory were all expertly sung by Innersoul’s vocalists, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats with the blood-pumping and fast-paced melodies. 

To infinity and beyond 

The concert drew to a close with one last song and a final word from Innersoul’s current executives emphasizing the importance of performing with “passion and purpose” in the face of numerous struggles behind the scenes. Coming to “just sing, sing it together, louder than ever, ever, forget everything,” Innersoul’s current and former members proudly ended the event with a beautiful rendition of Just Sing from the 2020 animated musical Trolls World Tour and a photo slideshow of the organization’s performances across the years. 

Truly, Lights Off was a beautiful tribute to the Innersoul voices of past and present. While the memories and melodies it weaved together may come from different ages—from classic and old jams to fun and trendy pop songs—the story it told on its vocal tapestry stays the same: the tale of a dreamer’s trail to the stars. Clearly, Innersoul is more than just an organization of many of the University’s best singers; it is a place where stars are born. 

By Therese Genota

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