“No personal questions” is the caveat given to our Chris Azzopardi before he got on the phone with Lea Michele, TV’s Rachel Berry. It’s an acceptable caution, given the Glee star’s painfully tragic last year: Her on- and off-screen boyfriend, Cory Monteith, died suddenly on July 13 from a drug overdose.
Still, Azzo was about to get some frank comments from Lea about her emotional roller coaster and how those feelings of loss show up on Louder, her debut solo album, recorded around the time of Monteith’s passing. The singer dedicated “You’re Mine” to Monteith, and the crushingly beautiful “If You Say So” was inspired by his last words to her. “I can’t believe it’s true,” she laments on the latter. “I keep looking for you.”
Dallas Voice: How much of Louder is a reflection of your life and your own heartbreaks? Lea Michele: I did not sing one word on the record that I could not incorporate into some experience in my life, whether it be current or past — every single song that I recorded is about me. It’s a peek into my life, past and present. Maybe it’s coming from my theater and performance background, but nothing felt right unless I could relate to it. I think it comes from being an actor, too. It had to be real for me. And not every song is about a current relationship or a current moment — I have songs on the album that I wrote about past relationships and past memories — but they all mean something to me.
The album is a throwback to an era when it was just about the voice, when Celine, Mariah and Whitney ruled the world. Were you inspired by any of these women while recording it? I don’t think I’ve gone a day in my life without being inspired by Celine Dion. If you would’ve seen me at her concert in Las Vegas — like, I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out. I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat like the happiest girl in the entire universe. But no, I’ve always been inspired by female performers and artists who really surround who they are around their voice. For me, it’s always been about the voice. I wanna hear someone just sit by a piano, on a stool and just sing — and that’s it! It’s never been about anything other than that for me. I always really wanted to make an album, and it was so important to me that I could be current and relevant and still fun, but at the same time show that I’m a singer — that’s what I pride myself on first and foremost.