When it comes to international musical theatre, the Philippines has been supremely blessed in having an actress of truly global caliber like Lea Salonga. At the age of 18 she was the first to portray the lead character Kim in “Miss Saigon”, a role that got her a Tony Award, the first won by a female Asian performer. To Disney fans in the 1990s, she would be better known perhaps as the singing voices of Jasmine in “Aladdin” and the titular “Mulan”. Now, Lea once again has a chance at another major American media award, this time for the Grammys.
CNN Philippines tells us that Lea Salonga and her fellow cast-mates on the Broadway revival of “Once on This Island” have been nominated for the Best Musical Theater Album at the 61st Grammy Awards happening next year. The one-act musical, about several Caribbean deities that follow the progress of love between a peasant girl and a noble of French descent on the French Antilles, was recently recorded as an album. Salonga first broke the news of this nomination on Instagram, where she expressed her enthusiasm at this honor and congratulated the rest of the cast of “Once on This Island”.
“Pardon me for screaming but… THE ONCE ON THIS ISLAND CAST ALBUM JUST GOT NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY!!!” Lea gushed on the Instagram text image she posted over the weekend. “OHHHHH MYYYYYY GODDDDDDDD!!!!!!!! We did it, Island Family!!!!!!!!!!” The accompanying caption repeated that point about the “Once on This Island” musical album being on the running for Best Musical Theater Album. Lea portrays Erzulie, the Goddess of Love in Caribbean Vodou who watches over and advises the peasant girl Ti Moune as she and the grand homme Daniel try to find love despite being of different races and social classes.
As with the famous major entertainment awards for film (Academy/Oscar), television (Emmy) and theatre (Tony), the Grammys are awarded by the leading honorary organization of music industry, The Recording Academy. This is the first time that Lea Salonga is receiving a Grammy nomination,albeit as part of a musical cast in an album recording. The 61st Grammy Awards is scheduled on February 10 next year, with “Once on This Island” competing against four other musicals for the Musical Theater Album category.
Should the album, and by extension Lea, win the award, it would put the now 47-year-old actress halfway towards the uncommon achievement of EGOT: an artist winning one each of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards in his career.
Image from When in Manila