Lea Salonga as Grizabella in Cats (Manila, 2010)
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By Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 8, 2012
A friend recently lamented that watching TV had turned an otherwise perfect day into a nightmare. He had spent an afternoon enduring poor renditions of pop songs. I didn’t see the show—my afternoons are usually spent watching cartoons with my daughter—so I can’t say how it went.
But I trust my friend, and I commiserate with him. No one should have to hear bad singing. And here’s my question du jour: What makes someone a bad singer?
I can almost hear the “duhs.” But yes, there is an obvious answer—when someone’s off-key, of course. It seems to be the most glaring sign that the person singing should be put away. Now, if the person asked is a professional singer, the answer may not be all that simple. There is more to singing than staying in tune.
I’ve had my share of cringing as I watch a song being massacred on TV. My neck starts to twist and every muscle from my shoulders up stiffens. I can’t help it. My friends have seen this, so they know if someone is, to my ears, veering from the intended path.
Another thing that triggers it is lack of emotion. I’ve heard singers who hit every note as the composer intended, who can do all the licks and turns, and ad lib until the cows come home—and yet leave the listener unmoved.
But I’ve heard less-than-perfect intonation that nonetheless made me feel my heartstrings had been expertly plucked.
To give an example: Weeks ago, I sat in for a while during a recording session for “The Kitchen Musical.” As musical director, my brother Gerard supervises every session in Manila (the show is taped in Singapore). I had a rehearsal scheduled with him, so I decided to wait.
I said hello to Karylle, who was finishing up, and commented on how nice her recorded tone was. Next to come into the studio was Art Acuña. Now, Art isn’t a singer, but he’s a damn good actor.
Gerard had earlier spoken about Art, thus: “He’s intense, you can really feel what he’s doing, because he’s such a great actor.”
The song to be recorded was Four Non Blondes’ “What’s Going On.” From the moment Art opened his mouth, you could hear what was happening in his head and heart. He has the skill to infuse his performance with such subtext and emotion, you forget that he’s not, in the strictest sense, a singer. I was moved just sitting in that darkened room, listening. That was one great performance. (His intonation was spot-on, too.)
So, I won’t discourage would-be singers from lending their voices to a song. Just have enough control over it, cultivate a good tone and have a heart bigger than the Virgin Mary’s. You might have something special that will make people listen. I use the word “might” because, to be honest, no one really knows what’s going to make an audience feel something and sit up.
That said, I know a massacre when I hear one. And when I know that I’m about to see it happen on a TV show, I turn the darned set off. Or switch to a video game.
James Ingram is coming for two shows and I will be his special guest! The singer of the classic pop hits “Just Once,” “One Hundred Ways” and “Whatever We Imagine” will be at Smart Araneta Coliseum on
February 17, and at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel on February 18. This is sure to be something very special, and I am very excited!
The Song That Changed My Life Episode 101 featuring Tony Award winning artist Lea Salonga | Click here to watch
Fifteen Favorite Musicals: Miss Saigon (03/15)
A song played on a solo saxophone
So stay with me
And hold me tight
Like it’s the last night of the world
David Harris and Lea Salonga (!!!) *fangirl explosion*
If they’re doing Wicked here in Manila and Jemma Rix is unavailable (and assuming that David is still playing Fiyero), can Lea please perform as Elphie? :D
Lea Salonga singing “Everybody Says Don’t” from Anyone Can Whistle. It starts about a minute in after a speech in support of gay marriage :)
By Lea Salonga
February 2, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I am happy to report that my daughter Nicole is back to riding her scooter, thanks to brand-new protective gear courtesy of her uncle Victor Lirio. Her skinned elbow is all fine and good, but something I wouldn’t want her to experience again.
She had her first ballet evaluation today. She’s at the most basic level possible, but already there’s an evaluation – in pink leotard, tights and split-sole ballet slippers, hair tied back in a neat bun. She wore the number 11 on the front of her leotard.
There were two teachers in the room: her regular teacher and the one evaluating the students. I couldn’t see very well from where I stood but, given that Nicole had taken lessons for only a few weeks, I think she did very well.
You’re probably wondering: Why ballet? Well, my first cousin, Maniya Barredo, is a prima ballerina. The title was bestowed upon her by another prima, Dame Margot Fonteyn. From what I’ve been told, no ballet dancer can call herself one – the title must be bestowed.
So, every girl in my family has to take ballet. I was a student for several years, as were a lot of my cousins. Nicole had to do it, or Maniya would never talk to me again. Gerard heard that from Maniya when he worked with her on “Romeo and Juliet,” so I expect his daughter Carmen in ballet class in a few years. She’d be a great “Carmen” someday; she already has the feistiness for it (translation: suplada and masungit… but very cute).
I was one of the many theatergoers who headed to the CCP Main Theater to watch “Mamma Mia!” I first saw it in 1997 during a working trip to London, and had a ton of fun. I had a ton of fun this time around as well. One difference? The audience in Manila was, interestingly enough, far more sedate compared to its West End counterpart.
If I remember right, in London, whenever the first few words of a most familiar song were sung, the audience would scream and clap. Perhaps they knew not to take it too seriously, and see it for what it is: a few hours of enjoyment with sentimental favorites from Swedish supergroup ABBA. The matching bell bottoms and platform heels enhanced the trip back to disco and glam.
Finally, toward the end, the CCP crowd got into the right spirit – on their feet, arms waving, singing and dancing along.
To the cast and crew, congratulations on a wonderful gala night, and break legs for the rest of the run!
Also, take the time to enjoy the islands if you can. Make sure to bring sunscreen (I noticed one of you was redder than a lobster … that’s gotta hurt).
My traveling days are coming again. That means landing at different airports. I am hoping that our own Naia will get itself out of the “world’s worst” lists. We may not have the nicest airport, but it’s not as bad as a lot of people say it is. Truth be told, I’ve seen worse. I’m optimistic that it’ll get better. Airports are the first places that tourists see. A good first impression makes for a great visit.
Speaking of things that need improvement, a few of our theaters could use a pick-me-up as well. I wonder if members of the well-heeled private citizenry would take up the cause of refurbishing our artists’ homes. When I see theaters abroad with brass plates behind certain seats, it makes my wheels spin. There are moneyed patrons who make a small contribution to fix a row of seats, replace the carpet, or have the dressing rooms painted. We keep going on and on about how proud we are of our artists; it’s about time we did something to justify such pride. Until then, we have no right to partake of the accolades they reap.
I will be performing at the Activity Center of Alabang Town Center tomorrow (Saturday), 6 p.m., in a show called “One Voice, One Community, One Cause,” a fundraiser for Tropical Storm “Sendong” victims. Other performers include Brenan, Julianne, College of Saint Benilde Chorale and Dr. Tonton Pascual. Plus Gerard Salonga and FilharmoniKa. See you all there!
This is the last weekend to catch Repertory Philippines’ “Next Fall” starring Bart Guingona and David Bianco. Directed by Audie Gemora. Head over to OnStage, Greenbelt 1! Call Repertory Philippines at 571-6926 or Ticketworld at 891-9999 for tickets and more info.
A Whole New World ~ Lea Salonga & Jared Young (An audience member)
This was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I was smiling like a fool the whole time.
Lea Salonga singing Handog Mong Karunungan in ASAP, January 22, 2012 (via adie1167) | Not the best quality, sorry!