Jazmine Sullivan to Receive Billboard's Rising Star Award
Though Michele quickly became a household name among millions of Gleeks in the last year, she's been performing since age eight, when she made her Broadway debut as the young Cosette in "Les Misérables." Roles in "Ragtime" and "Fiddler on the Roof" followed, and in 2006, Michele was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for outstanding actress in a musical, for the Duncan Sheik-composed "Spring Awakening."
Michele's move from the Great White Way to Hollywood came in 2009, when "Glee" first premiered on Fox. In just over a year, the show became a pop cultural phenomenon and earned Michele both Golden Globe and Emmy nominatons, for best actress in a musical or comedy series and best actress in a comedy series, respectively. The show also won best musical or comedy television series at the Golden Globes.
The music of "Glee" has been just as successful as the TV show, and in no small part because of Michele, who sings on seven of the cast's top 10 selling songs -- including one of her personal favorites, a cover of Barbra Streisand's "Don't Rain on My Parade." "All of the Barbra Streisand songs I've performed I've loved: 'Don't Rain On My Parade,' 'Papa Can You Hear Me,' and 'Happy Days are Here Again," says Michele. "Those were all my favorites. But growing up, my parents listened to a lot of classic rock, like Queen and Led Zeppelin. We did 'Faithfully' by Journey at the end of season one, and that was definitely a favorite for me."
But perhaps the most impressive news came in October, when the "Glee" cast broke the Beatles' Hot 100 record for most appearances among non-solo acts in the chart's 52-year-history, with 75 entries over the Fab Four's 71. The cast's Hot 100 grand total now stands at 89.
'Glee': The Billboard Cover Story
'Glee' Breaks Beatles Hot 100 Record
"Billboard created the triple Threat Award this year to recognize the incredible contribution that Lea Michele has made to music, as a star on Glee," said Billboard Editorial director Bill Werde. "Glee has rewritten the Billboard charts this year and Lea has been one of the driving stars of that success. Whether she's covering Britney or Broadway, Madonna or Rihanna, she always manages to bring out the most in her songs in a way that is distinctly Rachel, and by extension, Lea. Phenomena aren't always backed by true talent, but in this case, it's clear that Lea has what it takes as as singer, a dancer and an actor to be a star for years to come.
Before season two's kick-off this fall, Michele and her castmates toured across the country, performing "Glee's" biggest hits live in front of their fans. As the second season now nears its end, the cast is also releasing two more soundtracks before the year is up: "Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album" (Nov. 16) and "Glee: The Music, Volume 4" (Nov. 30).
"We work so hard over here at 'Glee,'" says Michele. "Whenever we're not filming, we're in the recording studio, or the dance studio. It takes a lot to put together this show each week, so to get this specific award that honors all of those three things is so amazing."