Lea MicheleValentina Barella
For powerhouse vocalist Lea Michele, being true to herself has always transported her to the place she wants to go next. Her belief in the music that launched her accomplished career imbues the singer's stunning sophomore album, "Places," with the kind of breathtaking fidelity that deserves comparison with the legendary female vocalists she most admires.
With the title purposefully chosen as a nod to the theatrical calling that shaped her, the record glows as the kind of resonant statement her loyal fans have been waiting for. Personal and performance-centric, the 11-song album showcases Lea's expansive range and signature vocal gradations that enrich the dynamics of a song and get to the heart of its narrative.
You could say such a line in the sand was drawn after her 2014 Columbia Records debut album "Louder." Not quite-post "Glee," it still came at a crossroads in Lea's career where she was beginning to ponder her next musical destination. A success by any standard music business measurement, debuting at #4 on Billboard's Top Album chart, it was the hectic process of making that album that instilled in Lea a desire to involve herself in every aspect of song making moving forward.
Instinctively able to inhabit the emotive core of any song she interprets, Lea estimates she learned more than 800 numbers as the very driven Rachel Berry on the acclaimed hit television show "Glee." It was an iconic role that producers have said was written especially for her. The award-winning series was a game changer in the TV and music worlds, with Lea nominated for an Emmy, SAG, and multiple Golden Globe awards, with the show selling more than 10 million singles and scoring more than 20 Top 40 Billboard hits.
Born in the Bronx, New York, and growing up in Tenafly, New Jersey, it would be the theater that first formed Lea's musical horizons and set her on the path as vocalist extraordinaire. She made her Broadway debut at age eight in "Les Miserables" and steadily gained notoriety, originating the enigmatic character of Wendla Bergmann in the 2006 hit Broadway musical "Spring Awakening," for which the original cast recording won a Grammy Award.
Lea will next be seen in ABC's comedy "The Mayor" set to debut in fall. She most recently starred in FOX's horror comedy TV series "Scream Queens" (as well as authoring two best-selling books). Lea's affection for her New York and Broadway roots stays with her no matter what project she tackles.
Valentina Barella initially was the campaign manager for the losing mayoral candidate, but changes sides and offers to join Courtney as his chief of staff when she realizes he truly wants to make a difference in his community. Valentina's no-nonsense, straight-laced ways assure him that things will turn out for the best, because she will not settle for anything less than perfect.