Lea Salonga

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Lea Salonga
Background information
Birth name Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga
Born February 22, 1971 (age 39)
Origin Angeles City and Manila, Philippines
Genre(s) OPM, R&B
Years active 1981–present
Label(s) Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Philippines)
Website Official site

Lea Salonga-Chien (born Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga on February 22, 1971 in Angeles City) is a Tony, Drama Desk, and Theater World Award-winning Filipino singer and stage actress who is best known for her portrayal of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon. In the field of musical theater, no other Filipino has achieved the same international recognition as Salonga. She has been the first to win various international awards for a single role.

She was the first Asian to play the characters Eponine and Fantine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway in 2007. On 11 February 2007, she performed at the Philippine International Convention Center with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

Lea recently released her first studio album in 7 years called "Inspired". The carrier single is a remake of Beverly Craven's "Promise Me". The album has been certified Platinum.


Early life

Lea Salonga was born to Feliciano Genuino Salonga and Ligaya Alcantara Imutan. She was born in Angeles City and spent the first six years of her childhood there.

Salonga became a successful child star in the Philippines. At the age of seven, she made her professional debut performing in the musical The King and I by Repertory Philippines. She became the lead star of Annie and joined other productions, such as: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Sound Of Music, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon and The Fantasticks.

She began her recording career at the age of ten with her first album, Small Voice, which received a Gold certification. Her younger brother Gerard Salonga performed a duet with her with the song, Happiness. Since then he has collaborated with her many times as Musical Director or Creative Director.

As a child star, she has also hosted her own musical television show, Love, Lea, and opened for Stevie Wonder during his 1998 concert in Manila. She won three Aliw Awards for Best Child Performer from 1981 to 1983. In 1983, her sophomore album, "Lea" was released. She was also starred in German Moreno's teen variety show That's Entertainment. The young Lea also appeared with Herbert Bautista in several popular family-oriented Filipino films in the late 1980s such as Ninja Kids, Captain Barbell, and Pik Pak Boom. Lea Salonga also received her first Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS Awards) award nomination (equivalent of an Oscar nomination) for Best Child Actress for the 1981 flick Tropang Bulilit, though she lost to child star Sheryl Cruz for Mga Basang Sisiw.

International career

Salonga's big breakthrough came when she was selected to play Kim in the musical Miss Saigon in 1989. Not having found a strong enough Asian actress/singer in the United Kingdom, the producers scoured many Asian countries looking for the lead for this major British production. For her audition, Salonga chose to sing Boublil and Schönberg's " On My Own" from Les Miserables, and was later asked to sing "Sun and Moon" to test her voice quality's compatibility with the songs in the musical. The members of the panel were "bowled over" by Salonga's rendition of the songs. After auditioning Salonga and Monique Wilson with songs from the musical, Salonga was offered the lead role and Wilson the alternate lead, as well as a regular minor role.

For her performance as Kim, Salonga won the Olivier for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for the 1989/1990 season. From its original London home, Miss Saigon moved to Broadway in April 1991. Salonga subsequently garnered the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for the same role. She also won the 1991 Theatre World Award.

In 1993, Salonga played the role of street waif Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Misérables, then flew to Los Angeles to perform the song "A Whole New World" (of Disney's Aladdin) at the 65th Annual Academy Awards, where the song won an Oscar. (Salonga sang the song in the movie as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine.) In the same year she released her self-titled international debut album with Atlantic Records, which sold slowly in the USA but went platinum in the Philippines and sold 3 million copies worldwide.[1]

In 1995 Salonga performed as Geri Riordan, an 18-year old adopted Vietnamese-American child in the movie Redwood Curtain, which starred John Lithgow and Jeff Daniels. Back in the Philippines, she starred with Filipino matinee idol Aga Muhlach in the critically-acclaimed film Sana Maulit Muli . Her poignant portrayal of Agnes in the film gave her a second Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS Awards) award nomination, this time for Best Actress. She lost to Philippine drama queen Maricel Soriano for her performance as a troubled battered wife in Dahas.

Salonga was invited by Sir Cameron Mackintosh to play the role of Eponine for the 10th Anniversary concert of Les Miserables at London's Royal Albert Hall. Salonga performed as part of a "dream cast" composed of Colm Wilkinson, Michael Ball, Judy Kuhn, and Philip Quast.

Salonga then acted in various musical theater productions around the Philippines and Singapore. She notably starred as Sandy in Grease, Sonia Walsk in They're Playing Our Song, The Witch in Into The Woods, and Lizzie in Baby. In 1997, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (recordings from her childhood days) was released to gold sales in the Philippines. It was followed by Lea... In Love in 1998. By Heart followed two years later, both albums reaching multiple platinum status in the Philippines. [2]

In 2001, Salonga had a grand homecoming via the Manila production of Miss Saigon staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. That same year and again in 2003, Salonga recreated the role of Lien Hughes on the soap opera As the World Turns, which was originally played by Ming-Na Wen years before. She also made a guest appearance in the medical drama E.R., playing the role of a patient with lymphoma.

In 2002 Salonga returned to Broadway to play the role of a Chinese immigrant in a reinterpretation of Rogers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song opposite Jose Llana. The show was given a brand new libretto which presented Asian Americans with more dignity than the original while at the same time playing with the stereotypes. It was considered one of the 10 best plays on Broadway in 2002 by Time Magazine [3]. The musical, which had a short run on Broadway, later on garnered nominations for Best Book, Best Costume Designer, and Best Choreographer. However, Ms. Salonga's performance, which had received mixed reviews, was not nominated at the Tony Awards.

In February and March 2005, Salonga played her first US concert tour in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, and Chicago. Dates in Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Virginia followed in July 2005. On November 7, 2005, Salonga performed with a 26-piece ensemble to a sold out crowd of 2,804 at the Isaac Stern Hall in Carnegie Hall for the benefit of Diverse City Theater Company. Salonga is only the third Filipino solo artist to perform at the venue (the first was Regine Velasquez followed by Jose Mari Chan).

In honor of her international achievements, the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences bestowed her with the Golden Artist Award on June 26, 2005 in the 53rd FAMAS Awards. The award is given to Filipino performers who received international acclaim and prestige from their work. Lea Salonga accepted the award and serenaded Filipino audiences with her rendition of "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from the musical Sunset Boulevard.

Salonga's Disney film credits include the singing voice of Princess Jasmine for Aladdin (1992), and Fa Mulan for Mulan (1998), as well as the voice of Mrs. Kusakabe (Satsuki and Mei's mother) in Disney's 2005 English dub of Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro.

Salonga has performed for three American Presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) and for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

In the 15th Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar on December 15, 2006, the closing ceremony concluded with the song "Triumph of the One" sung by Salonga at the Khalifa Stadium before an audience of 50,000 people.

On January 3, 2007 it was announced that Salonga will return to Broadway in the musical Les Miserables, replacing Daphne Rubin-Vega as Fantine. [4]

Personal life

On January 10, 2004, Salonga married Robert Charles Chien, a Chinese-Japanese managing director of an entertainment software company in Los Angeles, California. Their daughter, Nicole Beverly, was born on May 16, 2006. She was named after Lea Salonga's late mother-in-law, Beverly Chien.



  • Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbor Totoro (USA) (2004) (voice: English language version)
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic (2003) (voice) (uncredited)
  • Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge (2001) (VG) (singing voice) .... Princess Jasmine
  • Mulan (1998) (singing voice) .... Mulan
  • Sana maulit muli/Hopefully, Once More (1995)
  • Bakit labis kitang mahal/Why do I love you so much (1992)
  • Aladdin (1992) (singing voice) ... Princess Jasmine
  • Dear Diary (1989)
  • Pik pak boom (1989)
  • Ninja Kids (1986)
  • Captain Barbel/Mars Ravelo's Captain Barbel (1986)
  • Like Father, Like Son (1985)
  • Tropang Bulilit (1981)

External links

Preceded by
Tyne Daly
for Gypsy
Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical
for Miss Saigon
Succeeded by
Faith Prince
for Guys and Dolls

Original Source

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