The Scream Queens star says Dion and Barbra Streisand "made me work harder and take better care of myself to just be the best that I can be"

By Jeff Nelson
Updated May 22, 2017 12:43 PM
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Art imitates life, and Lea Michele admits her musical inspirations serve as personal ones, too.

On her new album Places, the Broadway veteran returns to her theatrical roots. And Michele, 30, says she looked to her own idols when it came time to record and write the LP, on which she showcases her powerhouse pipes.

“I’ve really embraced my sound with this record and my roots of being a theatrical performer and my influences of Barbra Streisand and Céline Dion,” says the actress, whose voice has often been compared to those divas’.

But to Michele, the comparisons were just that: They motivated her, but she by no means felt pressure to measure up to their success.

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“Those women were just sources of inspiration for me, nothing that I felt like I ever had to live up to — but they were incredible inspirations,” Michele says.

In addition to their angelic voices, Michele — whose Glee costar and boyfriend Cory Monteith died tragically in 2013 — can relate to Dion on another level.

“I look at someone like Céline and how she has held herself with such dignity and respect,” Michele says of Dion, whose husband René Angélil died of cancer in January 2016. “She just lost the love of her life, and she holds herself with such poise; and she’s taking care of her voice and trying to stay true to herself. I adore her. And obviously Barbra Streisand — they’ve always been these role models for me growing up, and it made me work harder and take better care of myself to just be the best that I can be.”

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On her personal new album, Michele sings of love, loss and perseverance. And the lyrics of one standout track, “Hey You,” read like a letter to the late Monteith. While Michele prefers not to discuss the meaning behind that particular song, she admits that “songwriting is a form of therapy” and “despite it being about a more sensitive subject matter, when I listen to it, my overall feeling that I get from it is just joy and love.”