The memory of Cory Monteith was present during the first show of Lea Michele‘s new tour. When Lea, 35, kicked off An Evening With Lea Michele: Life In Music tour in Washington D.C. on July 20, the Glee alum paid tribute to her co-star and former boyfriend with a stirring performance of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Glee fans will know that as the song that Lea’s character (Rachel Berry) sang during the show’s tribute to Cory and his character, Finn Hudson, following Montieth’s death on July 13, 2013. Fan videos – which you can see here and here — show not just the emotions Lea put into the performance but why that song was used to honor Cory.
Glee creator Ryan Murphy asked Rachel to choose the song that Rachel would sing in the tribute episode. “I don’t even remember what I was listening to at the time. Like, nothing. I was just in such a hole,” Lea said, per E! News.
“I’m grateful that [Murphy] asked me. Because it needed to be something that felt real for me.” She added that “Make You Feel My Love” was one of the songs that she and Cory had listened to during their time as a couple. Plus, she revealed that a lot of what “I say to [Matthew Morrison’s] character in that classroom were exact words I said to Ryan after everything.”
“And I never watched the episode. It’s the only one I have not seen because I feel like if I don’t watch it, it just kinda feels like Finn is still there,” she added.
Montieth passed away after an accidental overdose at age 31. Each year since, Lea has honored him online – as have Cory’s other Glee co-stars. Weeks before the start of her tour, Michelle reflected on the ninth anniversary of Cory’s death by posting a behind-the-scenes photo of herself and Cory on Glee. In the Instagram Story photo, Cory and Lea smiled at each other. Michele added a simple red heart emoji to the photo. It mirrored the tribute she posted in 2021 when she shared a photo of a happy Cory wearing a varsity jacket while waving to the camera.