Glee fans’ favorite leading lady tries on a new role: pop star    

For more than four years, millions of Americans watched Lea Michele belt out a broad range of hits on TV’s Glee. On her debut solo album, Louder, she shifts effortlessly between luxurious ballads and uptempo numbers that showcase her vocal and songwriting talent. The Emmy-nominated actress and singer tapped a stable of hit collaborators including Christina Perri, John Shanks and Australian singer-songwriter Sia for the record. Though making the album was a challenge, Michele, 27, was undaunted. “It’s scary at first to put yourself out there and be open and vulnerable,” she says, “but I wanted that. If I recorded a song, it’s because I could relate to it.” Michele is also releasing her first book—a combination memoir, advice and style guide—titled Brunette Ambition.


How did the album evolve?

We began recording the album in September 2012. It took a lot of different shapes and moods throughout the last year and a half. We tried a lot of different styles. I think it’s a great representation of who I am.


What was your main goal?

I definitely felt the most important thing was to show off my voice. I wanted to be honest and truthful and choose real songs to show myself as a real artist. That was a deciding factor. My goal throughout the album was to stick true to who I am. These incredible singers that I grew up with—Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette—all led with their voices. That’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sing something that wasn’t real.


How’d your collaborators help?

My record label helped me find the songs I didn’t write. I took the time to find songs that meant a lot to me. I was able to work with Sia on this album—she’s such a great writer and singer. To work, write and sing with her was amazing. We were a great match. I also worked with Christina Perri, who’s so talented, as well as Ali Tamposi, who’s worked with Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé. I’m just so thankful to have been able to work with these talented people.


What can audiences expect?

The singles—“Cannonball” and “Battlefield”—have given the fans a great sneak peek for the whole album. It’s unbelievable to think of the reaction we’ve had so far. I’m very grateful for the initial response to the singles we’ve released.

How is singing for a solo album different from singing on TV or Broadway?

I guess I feel the same way with music as I do with anything else, whether that be with Glee or Spring Awakening. That success is a nice thing to have in my back pocket. But this album is like opening a Broadway show. You’ve been working on it for such a long time, and you have this feeling of gratification. You want people to come out and see it and hear it.


Any lessons you’ve learned?

I love performing more than anything. Sometimes you can begin to doubt yourself and be afraid that you can’t get to the finish line. I think recording this album really helped me to find strength.


What’s next?

I’ll be promoting the album for a while, and then we’ll be shooting season six of Glee this summer. It’s great to be able to go back and be with my friends. Later this year I’ll be doing a few shows. I’ve been playing these songs for a while and I’m glad now people are finally going to be able to hear them.

–Blake Boldt


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