Tony Award winner and global music icon Lea Salonga is considered one of the most accomplished Filipino artists ever.
Just like the aspiring teens set to showcase their singing prowess in The Voice Teens, wherein she’ll have a returning stint as a coach this season alongside Bamboo, Sarah Geronimo, and Apl de Ap, Lea started her career in the music industry at a very young age. According to the book, The Filipino Americans (From 1763 to the Present): Their History, Culture, and Traditions by Veltisezar Bautista, her aunt who babysat her started to train her talent in music when Lea was just 3 years old.
At the age of 7, after she and her family moved from Pampanga to Manila, Lea had her professional debut on theater. She joined the theater company Repertory Philippines landed her first role in the musical play “The King and I.”
Under Repertory Philippines, Lea played the title role of Annie when she was 9. Then, she continued to appear on the succeeding musical plays produced by the theater group
At 10 years old, Lea recorded her first solo album titled “Small Voice” that received a gold certification. After the success of the said album, she hosted her own musical television show titled “Love, Lea”. Shortly after, she became part of the late German Moreno’s teen variety show titled That’s Entertainment.
In 1989 came a pivotal opportunity that Lea describes in her many interviews as the moment that “changed her whole life”. She auditioned for the London staging of Miss Saigon and took the lead role of Kim.
Lea narrated in interviews that she was already taking a pre-med course at the time she auditioned. While having second thoughts, her friends and family advised her to take the role. Thus, Lea grabbed the huge opportunity and garnered enormous acclaim and numerous international recognitions, including the Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in a Musical and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
When Miss Saigon happened in Manila in the year 2000, Lea still played the role of Kim. One her best moments that captivated everyone is her heartbreaking performance of the song "I'd Give My Life for You".
After the Miss Saigon stint that transformed her into a globally acclaimed Broadway artist, Lea continued to star on several musical plays. One of which is the sung-through musical Les Misérables, where she played as Eponine and Fantine.
Apart from being a Broadway artist, Lea also lived every girl’s dream to be a Disney princess. In 1992, she was casted as Princess Jasmine’s singing voice in the animated film “Aladdin.”
Six years after, Lea provided the singing voice for the legendary Chinese warrior named Hua Mulan. That was in Disney’s animated musical action-adventure film titled “Mulan.”
While her international career constantly thrived, Lea did not forget to go back to her roots. She still pursued her local career here in our country. From 1997 up to the present, she became part of ASAP (now ASAP Natin ‘To). One of her best moments in the show was when she celebrated her 35th anniversary in the music industry.
Clearly, Lea became an iconic and legendary singer. With that, she yearned to share her exquisite talent. Having a heart to mentor the new generation, she shared her expertise by coaching the new breed of talented singers. She became one of the mainstay coaches in The Voice of the Philippines from 2013. In its first season, her team produced the first ever winner of the reality singing competition, which is the singer, comedian and actor named Mitoy Yonting.
In the kids edition of The Voice of the Philippines in 2016, Team Lea produced the third season’s champion Joshua Oliveros.
The Voice 2017 was the first and only teen edition of the competition as of date. Mica Becerro became Team Lea’s finalist.
In 2019, Lea Salonga coached the kid balladeer Cyd Pangca, and in this finale duet performance, they sang a riveting version of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” that wowed the crowd.
Since her The Voice Kids stint last year, Lea appeared in her most recent theater presentation, “Sweeney Todd,” as Mrs. Lovett with The Dawn lead vocalist Jett Pangan as the titular character.
Now, we will again witness how the internationally acclaimed singer Lea Salonga will coach the new generation of teen singing sensations who has the potential to follow her footsteps in the industry. Let us all watch as she continues to inspire and pave the way for the talented teen aspirants in the upcoming second season of The Voice Teens beginning Saturday, February 8, after Home Sweetie Home and Sunday, February 9, after Rated K!