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A whole new world for Lea Salonga.

She's more than just a cartoon princess

Lea Salonga was in a Disney store at a mall recently, buying a gift for her sister. As she made her way through the colorful stuffed animals and toys, she noticed a large-screen TV playing the movie Aladdin.

In front of the TV was a young girl singing along to "A Whole New World," the song from Aladdin that Lea made a big hit last year.

"I couldn't resist," Lea told Currents. "I tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'That's me singing.' She said, 'You mean,, you're Princess Jasmine?'"

That's the problem with playing an animated character in a movie. Nobody knows who you are or what you look like.

But that is all changing for Lea, 22, who was born in the Philippines. Her first record, called Lea Salonga, has just come out. And it's creating quite a stir,

The record is filled with catchy pop songs written by some of the most successful songwriters around. The songs give Lea a chance to showcase her charming voice to a large audience that will probably include both younger and older fans.

"I think at first people are going to hear my voice, and say, 'She sounds familiar, but where do I know her from?' I hope soon they will recognize me on my own, and I won't have to be wearing a turban."

The idea for the new record started about two years ago when Lea was starring in the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. Producer Glen Ballard, who has worked with Michael Jackson, Wilson Phillips, and Paula Abdul, put word out that he and Lea would be working on a record together. And he invited people to submit songs.

All together, he and Lea received about 1,000 songs. Glen filtered it down to what he thought were the 30 best, and Lea chose the final 11 that made the record.

"I just listened to the songs," Lea says. "Some grabbed me by the throat. If I got the feeling that I just had to record the song, then I wanted it on the album. The songs that are on the album are the ones where the song and I got along very well."

The first single, "We Could Be In Love," is another duet with Brad Kane, who sang with Lea in Aladdin. "We Could Be In Love" has the same magic as "A Whole New World."

"Brad and I sing well together," Lea says. "I think our voices blend nicely, but we also get along very well when we're together. I think that comes through in the music."

In the future, Lea says she would like to do more theater. She has been performing in plays since she was 7. "It's hard work and you have to give up so much of your social life," Lea says. "But it's so exciting to be up in front of a live audience every night. Nothing beats it."
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:singer/actress
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Interview
Date:Nov 19, 1993
Words:495
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