MANILA, Mar 18 (Mabuhay) — Lea Salonga had a straightforward answer when asked on Friday to give advice to those who are trying to pursue a career in singing.

“Make sure you have the goods,” she said, saying the most important thing to consider is one’s ability to sing without the help of Auto-Tune.

According to Salonga, this applies to all kinds of singers, from belters like Regine Velasquez to more mellow artists like Moira dela Torre.

Not being out of tune and having an emotional connection to a song are, she said, two non-negotiables in a professional singer.

“At the very least, without the help of Auto-Tune, you have to sing well. And this is regardless of the quality of the kind of singing that you do. Because you can be Regine, Jaya, Moira, KZ, Sarah G. These are all different types of singers with different types of voices who bring something different to the industry. But they all sing well. That’s the thing,” she explained.

“They all sing well, they’re all emotionally connected. You can feel the emotion when they sing. You have to be at least that if you want to make this a career. You have to have the chops for this,” the “Voice of the Philippines” coach added.

But those who only want to sing as a hobby can skip those requirements and perform as much as they want, said Salonga, who noted that singing “can be a very healing force.”

“If it’s a recreational activity, I’m not gonna stop you. If it’s just singing to be expressive, if it’s just to be creative, by all means do,” she said.

She went on: “Kung hobby-hobby lang, sige lang, it doesn’t matter. But if you’re gonna make this a profession, you have to be at a very high level. Make sure you have the goods before making the decision.”

Salonga on Thursday marked her 43rd year in the industry by posting a photo from her first professional theater stint — Repertory Philippines’ “The King and I” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Over her career, she has become one of the most recognized and respected names in theater, starring in shows such as “Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables,” and “Sweeney Todd.”

Salonga has been giving back during the lockdown by helping raise funds for members of the performing arts and entertainment industry who have been affected by the pandemic, both in the Philippines and abroad.(MNS)

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