Yankees legend and Latin Grammy-nominee Bernie Williams and Multi-Platinum Recording Artist Jordin Sparks today debuted a new song, "Breath of Life (Para Don Berna)," with lyrics written by the winner of the Breathless® Ballad Challenge. The new recording is set to "Para Don Berna," an instrumental ballad written by Williams in honor of his father, who passed away from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2001. Championed by Williams, the Breathless Ballad Challenge launched as a lyric writing competition to raise awareness of IPF, a type of interstitial lung disease, and called on the public to write lyrics in honor of a hero in their own life – just as Williams' dad was to him. The winning lyrics were written by David DePinho of New Jersey, and were chosen by a panel of celebrity judges.
"When I learned that my good friend Bernie Williams' dad suffered from IPF, and how personal this campaign was to him, I was inspired to get involved and do what I could to raise awareness of this disease," said Jordin Sparks. "I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be a part of this rewarding project, and to perform these moving lyrics written by David."
DePinho witnessed his mother suffer from breathlessness due to lung complications from chronic disease and felt this was an ideal opportunity to pay tribute to her and offer a special remembrance in her honor.
"I was so excited when we launched the Breathless Ballad Challenge last year, an initiative that encouraged the public to submit lyrics to my tribute that I created in honor of my father, 'Para Don Berna'," said Bernie Williams. "The thought, care and attention that went into each submission was incredible. I want to thank everyone, the judges, the songwriters, and the public, for participating in this initiative that means so much to me."
In addition to DePinho, the Breathless Ballad top finalists include Jackie Clarke of Alberta, Canada; Valerie Koenings of Long Island, NY; Peter Lomp of Long Island, NY and Luis Rivera of Westchester, NY. The new rendition was produced by Emmy Award-winning producer and songwriter, Eren Cannata.
"We're honored to be working with such brilliant artists like Bernie Williams and Jordin Sparks to bring the Breathless Ballad Challenge to life," said Al Masucci, vice president, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Through this program, a profound, artistic masterpiece was created by individuals of immeasurable talent to fulfill the vision of this important initiative through song and increase awareness and early diagnosis of IPF."
The following panel of judges from diverse musical and professional backgrounds, reviewed the submissions and played an integral role in choosing the winning entry:
- Bernie Williams, New York Yankees legend and Latin Grammy-nominated musician
- Queen Latifah, award-winning actress, musician and TV producer
- The Bacon Brothers (Michael and Kevin), an Americana music duo who have played together since they were kids in Philadelphia and have released 10 albums
- Paul Shaffer, a singer and composer who served as David Letterman's musical director and band leader for 33 years
- Eren Cannata, an Emmy award-winning songwriter, producer, musician who has worked with Demi Lovato, Timbaland and NBC's "The Voice"
- Scott Staszak, chief operating officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and an accomplished musician
- Arthur Hanlon, a Latin music pianist, composer, arranger and Billboard and Emmy-nominee
- Hiram Williams, J.D., a lawyer and cellist who has frequently performed and collaborated with his brother, Bernie
- Willie Randolph, a six-time World Series champion as a player and coach, a music aficionado and mentor to Bernie
- Sweeny Murti, a long-time Yankees reporter for WFAN and Sports Net NY (SNY) and hosts the pregame and postgame shows for Yankees radio broadcasts and music enthusiast