Kristian Lei

Chris Fleck
Wednesday - May 04, 2011
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Photo courtesy Kristian Lei

Growth and maturity come with time and experience. When 19-year-old Kristian Lei left for Germany to play in the Cameron Mackintosh production of Miss Saigon, she was just beginning to understand the talent and potential she possessed. The stresses of learning her role, while balancing voice and music classes as well as adapting to a foreign culture, served as a stepping stone from which Lei has progressed professionally and spiritually.

More than 10 years later, Lei has had success playing numerous roles in the Disney show Festival of the Lion King at Hong Kong Disneyland.

“I became a completely different performer after FOLK. I have even more passion and joy in me now; it’s overflowing into my songs,” says Lei, who was featured on MidWeek‘s cover Aug. 18, 2006.

Since Miss Saigon, Lei also was able to record her first album in 2008 titled Take My Hand, which was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano award. While all the songs on Lei’s first album mean a great deal to her, it is the title track, Take My Hand, that Lei holds closest to her heart.

Take My Hand came one night after finishing my care-giving shift for my baby brother Joshua, who has cerebral palsy. He was very ill and on 24-hour care at the time. That night musician James Okubo and I decided we were going to write music together. At that moment I closed my eyes and the words and melody just flowed,” she says. “I surrendered, and God used me and James to write his healing song.”

Lei still dedicates her time as founder of Honolulu Broadway Babies, a nonprofit organization supporting the educationally challenged.

“HBB is still alive! We continue to build partnerships with organizations that share the same passion and love for these special people, and we do it loudly through song and dance,” Lei adds.

HBB is conducting auditions this June at Leeward Community College for its “Head of the Class” concert scheduled for Aug. 18 at LCC Theatre.

In honor and celebration of Mother’s Day, Lei will be one of an ensemble of entertainers performing at the Mother’s Day Brunch with the Stars starting at 10 a.m. Sunday at Hawaii Okinawa Center. Tickets are available at the Blaisdell Box Office or through Ticketmaster.

This special day has great meaning to Lei, as her mother is her hero. “I’ve learned decency, kindness, discernment, elegance and to always remain humble from Mama,” says Lei, whose mother moved Kristian and her family from poverty in the Philippines so they could build a life in Hawaii.

“She taught me to have integrity in all that I do, to never speak ill of others and that there are no walls you can’t walk through if you have enough faith, heart and determination. I love calling her my ‘Mamager.’”


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