Arts & Culture
Lea Salonga to Sing in Different Filipino Dialects on New Album
The Tony Award winner needed to adapt her vocal styles to fit each song.
IMAGE GETTY/ broadwayworld.com
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Throughout her career, Tony Award Winner Lea Salonga has delved into various entertainment and artistic channels. She’s wowed audiences on Broadway, acted in films, lent her vocal talents to beloved Disney characters, staged performances in sold-out concerts and before presidents, royals, and dignitaries. The multi-faceted artist continues to surprise, this time paying tribute to the beauty of traditional Filipino music. The singer collaborated with producer Ryan Cayabyab and GLP Music to create the album called "Bahaghari: Rainbow," to be released in November, as first reported by Broadway World.

According to Broadway World, Cayabyab curated the selection of songs over many years of research and Salonga chose those that appealed to her the most. As a child, she learned some of these songs through her mother, Ligaya, who would sing them to her. Originating from the distinct cultures found in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the traditional songs are written in several languages. Lea’s younger brother, Gerard, plays a role as one of the arrangers selected to set the best musical setting for the vocalist. The production is as diverse as possible, with six different arrangers and musicians each working on a few songs. Instrumental tunes from the piano and guitar, with complementing percussions and flutes, vibrantly blend together with Salonga’s vocals.

"As a Tagalog speaker, many of these tongues feel very foreign and strange, and since there’s always a danger that these languages won’t be spoken by future generations, there was a need on our part to preserve them in some way."

Salonga recognizes the importance of preserving Philippine culture and its many languages and sharing it with the world. She tells Broadway World, “This project felt like the perfect opportunity to introduce the languages of my country to a bigger world. A world that might not be aware of the intricacies and differences between these languages. As a Tagalog speaker, many of these tongues feel very foreign and strange, and since there’s always a danger that these languages won’t be spoken by future generations, there was a need on our part to preserve them in some way.”

Of the repertoire that Cayabyab had arranged, he says that he chose from the most popular folk songs from each region. For the Visayas, he chose a song each from the Cebuano and Hiligaynon languages and for Mindanao, he narrowed down the languages to Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Tagalog.

Salonga adds she needed to adapt her vocal styles to fit each song, while at the same time, maintaining her own personal style. “The more playful stuff, like ‘Pobreng Alindahaw,’ was just so much fun to do in the studio, and some of the more dramatic music like ‘Mutudnila’ was straight from the heart. The melodies are just as informative as the lyrics so I latched on to them.”

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h/t: Broadway World

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