DESPITE getting worldwide acclaim, Lea Salonga remains very humble. At the launch of the Bahaghari album she did with her friend, Ryan Cayabyab, who’s just been honored as a National Artist for his work in music, Lea is asked if she’s looking forward to be named one too in the future.
“Honestly, I don’t even think about as it’s not naman the motivation for me to do what I’m doing it. It’s never it and it should not be it. Pero kung mangyayari, e di good. Pero kung hindi, it’s also good,” says the Tony winner in Broadway and Olivier Awardee in London, among the other international honors that she has received. She and her co-artists in the musical “Once in an Island” are now nominees in the coming Grammy Award and that’s another feather on her already well-decorated cap.
“But I’m certainly glad when artists who have contributed to Philippine culture are recognized. They surely deserved to be honored as they’ve done so much for our country, like Larry Alcala and Bobby Mañosa.”
Lea is proud to be part of Curve Entertainment and GLP Music’s album, “Bahaghari”, that aims to present the rich and colorful music of the Philippines to the world.
“It has 15 beautiful traditional folk songs representing various regions, from Tagalog, Ilocano and Kapampangan to Bicolano, Bisaya and Ilonggo,” she says. “It will help orient today’s young people about our rich traditional musical heritage and also help preserve and propagate the significance and beauty of this art.”
The album was produced by our National Artist for Music no less, Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, whose deep knowledge of Filipino music proved to be a significant key to the project. He was able to make the album musically interesting not only with the diverse selection of the songs’ languages, but also with the diverse line-up of arrangers that he has tapped for each song, which include Lea’s own brother, Gerard. Lea’s voice is the thread that ties up all the songs in “Bahaghari” together. What adjustments did she have to make in recording the songs?
"Because the arrangements were all so different from one another, I needed to stylistically adapt my vocals to fit them while holding onto my own voice and the way that I sing. The more playful stuff, like 'Pobreng Alindahaw,' was just so much fun to do in the studio, while some of the more dramatic music, like 'Matud Nila,' was done straight from the heart."
The project was initiated when Lea was introduced to GLP Music founders Angela Jackson and Rex Niswander. The label produces music that would introduce children to world languages and world cultures. “We were focused on world music, music in languages other than English, but we had not considered an album in the languages of the Philippines,” said Niswander. “That all changed when we met Lea Salonga."
"Bahaghari” is now available in Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer and all digital platforms worldwide. Physical CDs with a special booklet containing cultural notes written by award-winning writer and director Floy Quintos, and original lyrics with English translations will be available at local record stores on December 17. This would be a good Christmas gift for your loved ones, especially those who are abroad as it will remind them of their roots. After this, Lea’s next project will be Atlantis Productions of the dark musical, “Sweeney Todd”, where she’ll play Mrs. Lovett to Jett Pangan’s Sweeney.