Tony Award-winning artist Lea Salonga has just released an album, a 15-track record with songs in six languages namely Tagalog, Kapampangan, Ilocano, Bicolano, Ilonggo, and Bisaya. The musical outing is a collaboration with newly-declared National Artist Ryan Cayabyab.
Without listening to the CD, and just hearing that Salonga and Cayabyab are on board this project, it is safe to say that you are in for treat most especially if you learned about the process the two geniuses went through just to produce the album.
“Because the arrangements were all so different from one another, I needed to stylistically adapt my vocals to fit them while holding on to my own voice and how I sing,” Salonga said.
“The more playful stuff, like ‘Pobreng Alindahaw,’ was just so much fun to do in the studio, and some of the more dramatic music, like ‘Matud Nila,’ was straight from the heart. The melodies are just as informative as the lyrics, so I latched on to them,” she added.
It is with great pride for Curve Entertainment Inc. and GLP Music to trumpet the release of the album Bahaghari, Salonga’s latest music endeavor as she focuses on presenting the rich and colorful music of the Philippines to the world.
“This project felt like the perfect opportunity to introduce the languages of my country to a bigger world—a world that might not be aware of the intricacies and differences between these languages. Many of these tongues feel very foreign and strange, and since there’s always a danger that these languages won’t be spoken by future generations, there was a need on our part to preserve them in some way,” Salonga explained.
Produced by Cayabyab, whose deep knowledge of Filipino music proved key to the project, Bahaghari is aimed to reach the consciousness of the young Filipino generation to revive our traditional music’s heritage and preserve the importance and beauty of this art.
“We are an archipelago and we’re all kind of insulated in our own bubbles. We don’t always know what’s going on in our own country just because of the nature of it. So, hopefully, more people will get to hear this album, never mind my voice, that’s fine. But listen to the language, listen to what your neighbor in another province is trying to say or what kind of music is coming from there,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cayabyab was able to make the album musically interesting not only with the diverse selection of the songs’ languages but also with the diverse line-up of arrangers that he has tapped for each song, which include Salonga’s brother, Gerard.
“The songs had to be varied in subject, in emotion and in tempo and rhythm,” Cayabyab noted.‘‘The collection could not all be slow songs or only celebratory songs. We had to have a good representation not only of language but of a variety of subjects and emotions. This would hopefully make for a lovely aural spread.”
The project was initiated when Lea was introduced to GLP Music founders Angela Jackson and Rex Niswander. The label produces music that would introduce children to world languages and world cultures.
“We were focused on world music, music in languages other than English, but we had not considered an album in the languages of the Philippines,” said Niswander. “That all changed when we met Lea Salonga. Thanks to her, we began to appreciate the significance of an album that would present the linguistic and cultural diversity of the Philippines.”
“There is a large Filipino diaspora around the world. They have very tight ties to their homeland yet many children in the diaspora don’t learn Tagalog or one of the other languages. We hope this album can become a resource for families, to inspire interest in these languages and their wonderful songs,” explains Jackson.
Bahaghari is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer, and all digital platforms worldwide. Physical CDs with a special booklet containing cultural notes written by award-winning writer and director Floy Quintos, and original lyrics with English translations became available in local record stores on Dec. 17.
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