Friday, October 3, 2014

Lea Salonga

Ms. Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga was born in Manila February 22, 1971.

One of those Filipinos locally known as Martial Law Babies, she is affectionally known as "Lei" or "Tata". Many other Filipinos have similar shortened or repeating one syllable names.

Lei began her "singing" career at the age of ten, recording the cutesy "I Am But A Small Voice".

She also went on to host her own musical TV show, "Love, Lea" and become a cast member of a popular variety show.

Other than having such a natural vocal talent and quite well-known in the Philipines which is a nation that boasts of musical abilities left and right, she was probably on her way to being  a "typical" city girl living in Manila (taking up a pre-med course). Finishing a degree is big and foremost for Filipino families.

Video:  Miss Saigon 25th Year Gala Finale, London 2014

Broadway Fame

But auditioning and finally being selected as the first "Miss Saigon", everything totally changed literally overnight for Lea. The Musical Miss Saigon premiered at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London, on 20 September 1989 and as they say, the rest is history.

Her second call to fame, was when she landed the part of the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in the Disney film "Aladdin" in 1992 and then as the singing voice of the movie "Mulan" in 1998.

She played Mei-Li in the Broadway revival of Flower Drum Song, September 2002. And Lea made her concert debut at the prestigious Carnegie Hall on November 7, 2005. She played the role of Fantine in the musical revival of Les Miserables at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway, March 2007. She also played the role of Eponine.

In 2011, she was named a "Disney Legend".

She uses the name "Manang" as her online name. This means an elder sister in the native language.

Lea is now married and mother to a daughter, Nicole Beverly. 

Incidentally, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world.

International Awards

Now we should be amiss if we didn't mention that she was the first Filipina to win the prestigious Tony Award for her role as Kim in the Broadway Musical "Miss Saigon".

She was the first full-blooded Filipina to have won the Olivier (1990), and the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Theatre World Awards (1991) for Best Actress in a Musical for her smashing work in "Miss Saigon".

Outside of Corazon C. Aquino (President of the Philippines, 1986-1992, she is probably the most well known Filipina of her time.

Video: Lea Salonga - The Song That Changed My Life

Yes, she still sings and performs to this day. The bonus, it looks like she didn't age at all.

Check her Broadway, concert and tour schedules or other news on her site: Lea Salonga Official Website

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