Lea Salonga: A Night with a Princess’ Voice
Lea Salonga was twice a singing Disney princess for a very good reason. She’s incredibly good.
I had the privilege of seeing her perform at the Catalina Jazz Bar last Monday and I knew when we booked the tickets earlier, it was going to be a really special night. You see, Lea is the probably the most famous Filipina artist in the world. She not only landed the singing roles for Princess Jasmine (Aladdin, 1992) and Fa Mulan (Mulan, 1998) but also starred as the original lead for the Broadway musical Miss Saigon as well as played Éponine and Fantine in Les Misérables.
So, you can’t really blame me for going full-on geek and working up a bit of fanart to present to her like a giddy kid. ( I actually got the idea from Andreas Deja when he got a chance to meet Celine Dion.) I handed it to her after the concert and snagged a quick photo with her amongst the crowd of admirers that surrounded her.
Spending the night in her company, it became apparent how I’ve come to I admire her so much. In addition to being unbelievably talented, she’s also funny, warm and down-to-earth. When you listen to her sing, you hear her heart on the line. She gives each song and every line she utters everything and her music resonates with you. Lea gave Jasmine the joy of discovering new worlds and captured Mulan’s struggle with her identity.
I want to create art in the same way Lea sings: in service of powerful, emotional stories that can inspire generations long into the future. I want to be able to say I gave my work my everything and in the event I do achieve my dreams, I can only hope I can stay grounded and be as gracious as she had been. Not everyone who achieves great success can say it’s made them better people. Lea seems to understand how fortunate she has been and exudes an infectious positive energy- the same kind professional artists who love their work have.
At the end of the night, Lea wished everyone creative success, encouraging everyone to break down the creative blocks that stop you from becoming the best version of yourself. Little girls and budding Filipino artists like myself couldn’t ask for a better role model.
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