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A Lea Salonga Interview


US ASIANS: Did you need/recall needing much encouragement to sing with your cousin playing guitar, on the living room coffee table to family members, at the age of two – that seems to be an extension of Mom’s description that you were very articulate at that age?

I didn't need much prodding or pushing.
Singing was something I loved doing, even at that young age.
(Lea Salonga)

US ASIANS: What provided the opportunities for you to record your first album, Small Voice – that became a Gold Record, at the age of ten?

LEA SALONGA: There were people close to me that believed that I had something special enough that it was worth recording my voice and selling my records. My mother was the biggest proponent of this... she personally headed to Raon to bring copies of my early records to the stores, and the one who believed that a "kid's record" would sell when no one else thought it would. So, she created the opportunity. It wasn't handed to her, or me.

US ASIANS: What did you learn from your music idols such as the Osmonds, Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John and Abba? Do you have any additional idols that have influenced your music career and/or stylings?

LEA SALONGA: These singers all had/have clear voices that really helped the listener focus on the lyrics besides the tone and music.

US ASIANS: When you were 14 and singing with people such as Martika, Shaniece, Rashaan Patterson, Drew Barrymore, Kim Fields and Alyssa Milano – did this confirm that you were doing something that you love to do for the rest of your life?

LEA SALONGA: Not really, no. Confirmation came when I was doing Miss Saigon.

US ASIANS: Do you still train with teachers such Zenaida Amador (drama), Baby Barredo (drama and voice), Mary Hammond (voice) and others before performing on stage?

LEA SALONGA: Zeneida Amador passed away, and I haven't trained with Tita Baby for so long. Mary lives in London so I don't train with her currently... my voice teacher is Marta Woodhull and she's based in LA. When I have the time, I do train with her when I feel I need help to reach high notes before a long run, to get my body technically prepared for the grind.


Regine Velasquez

US ASIANS: Do you feel that the current crop of talented young “birit divas” (i.e. Sarah Geronimo, Rachel Ann Go, Frenchie Dy, Nina, etc.) and “belt-out divas” (i.e. Regine Velasquez, Lani Misalucha, Banig, Pops Fernandez and Zsa Zsa Padilla) sometimes allow their enormous singing gifts get in the way of being an artist (i.e. Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Bonnie Raitt, Liz Wright, Michelle Branch, U2, Prince, Jose Mari Chan, Gary V., Kuh Ledesmo, etc.) that is interpreting a song’s lyrics (as oppose to being talented entertainers) – having noted that you are first drawn to the words?

LEA SALONGA: Their style is their style, and I can't say that their gifts get in the way of anything. How they choose to interpret their songs is their own. My way is my own. There are singers that choose to focus on one aspect of a song; I choose another thing. To each his own.

US ASIANS: Performing before which celebrity provided the most rewarding experience? It is noted that you’ve performed for Queen Elizabeth II, George Bush, First Lady Mrs. Bush, George W. Bush, Prince Phillip, Hilary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton.

LEA SALONGA: None of them... it was a privilege and an honor, but not necessarily rewarding. It's more rewarding singing to my goddaughters... I get the best reactions from them, but I fear that even my voice is getting old to them.

US ASIANS: What do you attribute to your many fans spanning many various generations from young to old?

LEA SALONGA: Maybe it's the music that I sing, or that the medium in which I perform most of the time caters to both the young and old.

US ASIANS: Do you still play classical piano or banduria (string instrument)? Did you your training on these instruments provide some creative insights on how to sing certain parts or roles?

LEA SALONGA: I don't play music anymore... but it's something I'd like to take up again.

US ASIANS: In the future, do you feel that your audience would love to hear songs that you sing during your “unwinding/relaxing” situations with your friends such as Britney Spears songs (i.e. Toxic?!?!?!) and unexpected choices?

LEA SALONGA: Uh, no. I like keeping my "unwind" songs just that.

US ASIANS: Of your many recordings (see below), which project(s) provided the most creatively satisfying environment while providing the confidence to extend the horizons of what can be expressed through one’s music?

The Nutcracker, Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert Royal @ Albert Hall in London with Colm Wilkinson, Michael Ball, Ruthie Henshall and Judy Kuhn, People, Lea Salonga, The Little Tramp, The King and I, One Earth, Aladdin, Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga Christmas Album, Lea, and Small Voice, Miss Saigon (original London cast recording), The King and I, Lea Salonga, The Nutcracker, Lea...In Love (featuring the songs of Odette Quesada, Cecile Azarcon, and Alvina Sy), Typhoon Angela/Music & Miracles Concert, Home for Christmas Concert (with Ogie Alcasid, The Company, Christian Bautista and Erik Santos)/Bantay Bata (childen’s welfare foundation of ABS-CBN 2), By Heart, Christmas Album, Songs From the Screen, Lea...In Love and By Heart
To view the entire list of music credits, click

LEA SALONGA: Each recording is different, and each show offers something for me to extend my skill. Can't say that one in particular achieves that goal.

US ASIANS: How does doing voice work differ from performing and/or acting?
(Eponine Les Miserables, Eponine Les Miz in Concert 10th anniversary cast, Hey! Mr. Producer, Mulan, Jasmine in Aladdin and Tuptim in King & I

LEA SALONGA: It differs only in the sense that I focus on only one thing: my voice. Not my appearance, my wardrobe, make-up, hair, nothing. Just my voice. In a way it's very liberating doing voice work, as it releases you from thinking about anything and everything else.
Read about her career in film and television by clicking HERE
Review the many elements that make Lea a star professionally and personally

Family History
Gerard Salonga
Mariya Barreto
Personal Life
Words of Advice

Catholic Documentary

Faith and Prayer
Lea's Prayer
Lea on Prayer

Current Status of Diversity
David Henry Hwang Views
Filipino Pride
Influx of APA Talent
Marian Liu Interview

Mulan's Diversity

Problems Obtaining Roles
Role Models
Perceptions - Past/Present/Future
Supporting APA Organizations
Yellow Ceiling

Boyfriend / Fiance / Husband
Diane Monique LHuillier
Introduction to Robert
Lasting Memories
Lea on Romance
Life Being Married
New Baby
Wedding Day

Charity Work
Lea's Charities

Career Goals
Flower Drum Song
Memorable Performances
Selection of Roles

2005 Tour Dates
Favorite Roles
Musical Theater
Old School Singing
Richard Jay Alexander

Film Career
TV Experiences

Film & TV (Actress)
Film & TV (Herself)

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