Telly Leung talks new album and Broadway musical ‘Allegiance’

FEATURES | by Deon Newsom


Turns out Telly Leung has an affinity for the classics. The former Glee star is back with a brand new album loaded with hits we all know and love. Aptly titled Songs for You, the 12-track compilation boasts revamped recordings from vocal greats such as Michael Jackson, Oleta Adams, and John Denver to name a few.

Leung says making the album was a labor of love.

“We put our heads together to see how we could make the songs ours and something fresh while still keeping the spirit of what they were intended to be,” he shares about the album’s creation process.

Coinciding with its release, Leung is also flexing his golden voice in the new Broadway musical Allegiance where he stars alongside legendary actor George Takei and Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Mulan). recently sat with the uber-talented performer to get the scoop about the show, his album and how he ended up being named Telly.

So this is your second album, what inspired you this time around? 

I released my first album (I’ll Cover You) back in 2012 when we did the world premiere of Allegiance. Now that we’re getting to do the show on Broadway, I thought what a wonderful way to celebrate by getting all of my musicians together again and doing a second album. Our show took six years to get from page to stage, from an idea to being on Broadway. So I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude. Getting a Broadway show to happen is such a difficult journey. The album really came from that place of just feeling grateful, and also feeling very thankful for all of the amazing people in my life that have helped me get to where I am today. It’s an album of gratitude. Each one of the 12 tracks on the album is actually dedicated to someone special in my life.

How did you decide which songs to include?

As a music lover I have so many varied tastes. I think the album reflects that. There’s show tunes, pop songs, standards, R&B, and a couple of mashups. So it reflects my eclectic taste in music, but also reflects what I like to do as a musician which is to get together with other musicians who I love and respect.

I really dig You Gotta Be, Leaving on a Jet Plane, and (Send Me) On My Way. Do you have any particular favorites?

I do a mashup of I Am What I Am—it’s a Broadway show tune—and I Have Nothing from The Bodyguard soundtrack. Growing up as a kid, I trained as an actor and I’m a trained music theater guy. But I always said my first teachers were the people that I listened to on the radio. I was that ’80s, ’90s kid that had the double cassette tape boom box. When we heard a great song on the radio we pressed record. I found myself pressing record when I heard artists like Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Whitney HoustonMariah Carey. These people were delivering singing to a whole other level. I remember every time a Whitney tune came on I recorded it. I copied all the licks, the rifts, and tried to do all the runs with her. So that one is really special to me. It’s dedicated to all the Gleeks.

Now that you have two cover albums under your belt, can we expect original material in the future?

It’s so funny you ask that. I had a friend who pulled up a demo of mine from ten years ago. It was like a small 7-track EP. I was writing with a friend who was my dresser in my first Broadway show. He had a studio and we wrote tunes together in the hopes of selling them to artists that were big at the time. As a way to save money I ended up demoing all of the songs… I don’t know. I have such a reverence for great songwriters, especially on this album. We covered the gamut of all the songwriters that I really love, everybody from Billy Joel to Stephen Sondheim to people like David Foster and Leon Russell. Maybe in the future I’ll be brave enough to put out my own stuff. Right now it doesn’t feel ready yet. It’s very scary to do that.

Stream ‘Songs for You’ via Spotify

Keep reading for more on ‘Allegiance’

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