If the Phillipines ever had a princess, it is Lea Salonga. Petite and graceful, with a girl-next-door quality, she encapsulates the spirit of her country in one remarkable voice. A star in her homeland since childhood, she hit the American spotlight in the late '80s. America did not simply discover her — it stood in awe of her, thanks to her groundbreaking performance as Broadway's original Miss Saigon. She won the Tony Award for her role. In 1992, Salonga was chosen as the singing voice of Jasmine in the hit Disney film Aladdin, which won the Academy Award for "Whole New World." With good publicity and new fans, Salonga found an open door to a self-titled American album debut through Atlantic records. Paired with producer/writer/musician Glen Ballard, who would later be known for his collaborations with Alanis Morissette, Lea Salonga features 11 simple pop tunes. It opens with a cover of Belinda Carlisle's "Vision of You," written by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley. It closes with "The Journey," written by Julie Gold (another inspiration from the writer who gave Bette Midler "From a Distance"). It contains a middle track duet with Brad Kane, who was the singing voice of Aladdin. In between is some standard pop fluff. It is fluff done well, but the question is, who has such a gifted Broadway veteran singing songs that fall a few notches below her musical level? Filipino fans brought the album multi-platinum sales, while it fell flat elsewhere. Suffice to say that if Disney had gotten their highly promotional clutches on her, a CD titled "Lea Salonga Sings Jasmine" would have brought in some real sales. It would also have tainted her talent in the same way this album does, by prohibiting her finely tuned voice from breaking free into a more unexpected and artistic world of music.
Great Album! Beautiful Voice Indeed!
For an artist with one of the most beautiful voices in the world, this album is a refreshing way to prove her versatility. Salonga did not only soar in "A Whole New World" (Jasmine in Alladin) and mesmerize us in "Reflection" (Mulan) but gives us a great time to listen to a nice pop album.
Personal favorite includes Grammy winner Julie Gold composition "The Journey", "Heaven Tonight", "Vision of You" and "It's Just Goodbye". Her own version of Olivia Newton John original "I Honestly Love You" is one of the best rendition I've heard.
For a Tony award winner like Lea, it's a surprise how can she pull pop songs after giving us amazing performances as Kim (Miss Saigon) & Eponine (Les Miserables). It just amazes me how she can cross over to Pop from Disney and Broadway. Truly a great voice.
Whether your a fan of Salonga or not, this album is a must. A good addition to your pop collection!