February 22, 1971 – Actress, Singer, and Disney Legend Lea Salonga is Born
“I’ve been listening to Disney music my whole life…the whole Disney experience has been great fun.”
On February 22, 1971, Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga was born in Manila, in the Philippines. In 1978, at the age of seven, Salonga had her professional stage debut in a performance of The King and I. Her first album, Small Voice, was released at age 10, and would go on to be certified gold. She continued her theater career with parts in Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Sound of Music. Through the GMA Network, Salonga was a teen idol, hosting her own music show called Love, Lea, and winning several awards for her performances in other family-oriented entertainment shows, including Ninja Kids and Pik Pak Boom. In 1982, her international breakthrough came when she was cast in the West End’s Miss Saigon as Kim; Salonga would win the Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical. The accolades continued when Miss Saigon transferred to Broadway, and she won the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Theater World Award. In 1992, Disney asked her to perform as the singing voice for the character Jasmine in the film Aladdin, performing alongside Brad Kane’s Aladdin. The song would go on to be nominated for (and would win) the Academy Award for Best Song; Salonga and Kane were asked to perform the song on the telecast of the awards. She was asked back to the studio to sing the song “Reflection” for the titular character in the 1998 film Mulan; she has continued to sing for both Jasmine and Mulan in several other projects featuring the characters. In 2011, Salonga was honored as a Disney Legend, and continues to tour all over the world through her solo career and with several productions.