Barrett Baber, whose full-throated, Southern rock-tinged vocals took him to a third-place finish on Season Nine of NBC’s The Voice in 2015, has released “Still Stands,” a powerful song from his album A Room Full of Fighters. Penned by Baber with Kenny Lamb, the tune recounts the brave, inspiring story of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Ryan Pirelli, who was killed in action in Iraq in August 2007, but not before leaving behind a combat outpost that would one day bear his name and inspire a documentary film.
A native of Franklin, Massachusetts, Pirelli volunteered for military service in 2003 as a Special Forces (Green Beret) recruit in the Army. Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2007, he used his engineering skill to establish an outpost in the dangerous Diyala province. The outpost Pirelli built protected American soldiers from harm during his deployment and continued to protect American troops for several years after he was killed. Remembered by his fellow soldiers not only for his ingenuity, bravery and a thick Boston accent, Pirelli, a hockey enthusiast, also spent time teaching local Iraqi children how to play baseball. After he was killed, the combat outpost was renamed Combat Outpost Pirelli in his honor and a symbol to remember him – a sword, lightning bolts and fire – became part of what his fellow soldiers called “The House That Rob Built.”
Inspired by Pirelli’s actions, Baber wrote the song, saying, “When I heard the story of Staff Sgt Rob Pirelli, and how, through the outpost he built to protect his fellow soldiers, his legacy remained long after his ultimate sacrifice, I was moved at the depth of this very personal, human story. I’m proud to have been able to tell his story in song.”
The song is now part of the documentary film Danger Close, following award-winning war reporter Alex Quade, who was embedded with U.S. Special Operations Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at the height of the wars in those countries. Danger Close is the third in the “Heroes of Valor” collection, in which Quade follows the Army’s Special Forces Green Berets, as well as Army Rangers, Navy Seals and CIA clandestine operatives sharing their stories from the front lines. Quade is the only reporter – male or female – to ever be embedded with these secretive units, alone without additional film crew or support. She has received the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Tex McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism. Danger Close, directed by David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud, will be released theatrically on April 28th and available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD beginning May 16th.
Since The Voice, Baber has opened shows for Rascal Flatts on their 2016 Las Vegas residency. He is currently on his Room Full of Fighters Tour and the same-named LP is available now.