|Seminarian Kenneth Parsad (Photo Source: PhilNews)|
By Boy Abunda | Posted March 17, 2016
When seminarian Kenneth Parsad sang the Responsorial Psalm at a Mass for Pope Francis during his visit to the country in January last year, there were a lot of things he never expected to happen.
For one, he didn’t count on becoming a viral sensation. And second, he didn’t think that becoming one would open up more opportunities, and in mainstream entertainment at that. Thanks to all the publicity his singing for the Papal Mass generated, Kenneth — who now also teaches Theology at his Alma Mater, the University of Santo Tomas — was recently signed up by Universal Records and has released an album titled Still. The album contains inspirational tracks like Kenneth’s cover of Gary Valenciano’s Natutulog Ba Ang Diyos, Far Greater Love, My Soul Finds Rest, Ang Ganda, I Will Be Here For You and God Gave Me You.
Actually, prior to the offer, Kenneth and one of his spiritual and musical mentors, identified only as Ferdinand Bautista, planned to make an album of his psalm compositions. But when Bautista suddenly had to leave for France, the plans came to an unexpected halt. That was when the UR offer landed on the table. It was like God was giving him a second chance to go out and reach more people. “I eventually saw it as God’s re-offer for evangelization.”
In the beginning, says Kenneth, doing this sort of thing didn’t even cross his mind. “During the Papal Mass at the Cathedral, I just desired to deliver the message of the psalm. But it generated many things such as this (album). I feel happy and blessed for all the opportunities that have opened up for me, most especially the friends I have met. They are amazing. God truly reveals himself through the people and events in our life!”
Kenneth, who hails from Abra and who was born to an Indian father and a Filipina mother, reveals that he has always loved music. His favorite songs include I See Fire, I’m Yours, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved while he counts Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz and The Script among the many musical artists/bands he looks up to.
He has what could be called a very normal life. Aside from his interest in music, Kenneth plays basketball and reads theology books. His current read is Pope Francis’ The Name of God is Mercy. When he was a child, he remembers playing street games with the other neighborhood kids. “We played paway, tumbang preso, texts and (Yugi-Oh) cards, tagu-taguan, etcetera. And during the afternoons after class, I would go home immediately to watch animé like Dragon Ball Z and Ghost Fighter. It was not yet a computer world, but it was fun!”
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Then the religious life came calling, but Kenneth did not forget his interest in music. “Ever since I entered the seminary, music has been a huge part of my personality. I love music. I love singing and playing the guitar. However, it was not my (ultimate) dream to be a singer who performs on stage. Nevertheless, I enjoy performing, especially with friends!”
But he clarifies that despite having recorded and released this album, being a priest is still his ultimate dream.
“I believe singing will not cause any conflict with my intentions to be a priest. In fact, it is a wonderful instrument that could be used for evangelization for the Catholic Church! I say this because singing is just a means for me. It is never an end in itself. What I mean to say is that my identity as a Christian precedes my talents, that my talents are only there to serve one ultimate purpose: To proclaim God’s reality and goodness.”
When they began recording the album, he was nervous and felt like the proverbial fish out of water.
“Honestly, I felt nervous at first,” he recalls. “But as I progressed with the songs, I felt more comfortable and confident. It was quite a hard process since we needed to find time to record since I also teach Theology in UST. In this, Universal Records graciously adjusted to my available time for which I really am grateful.”