If we took anything away from watching six seasons of Glee, it’s that Rachel Berry is a star. Of course, she can also be a major pain with her drama-stirring antics and diva attitude. But no one can deny she was born for the stage. Like Kurt remarked after witnessing another stunning Berry performance, “She may be difficult, but, boy, can she sing!” Rachel’s passion and drive to become the best make her stand out from the crowd and led to her pursuing her dreams. She has some flops along the way, but the failures she experiences only make her a stronger person and allowed her to mature into a fully-fledged artist.
Rachel was born December 18, 1994, to her two gay dads Hiram and LeRoy. Rachel’s upbringing centered around music, and she enrolled in voice lessons, dance, and acting to “get an edge” on her future competition. From day one, Rachel was ready for the spotlight, emulating her die-hard favorite songstress Barbra Streisand.
Rachel first appears to us as the bright-eyed sophomore who signs her name with a gold star. She brings the Glee Club out of obscurity and becomes its first-ever captain. Rachel also grows in her personal life as she falls in love with Finn and grows close to her rival, Jesse St. James. Her competitiveness and talent allow New Directions to win quite a few competitions, but her arrogance and stubborn focus also cost her some relationships along the way. Rachel miraculously makes it into NYADA, an elite performing arts school in New York. Her big break comes when she’s cast as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.
However, life doesn’t always go to plan, and Rachel goes through a rough patch after dealing with the tragedy of Finn’s death. She returns to McKinley High after her TV show goes bust and helps Kurt relaunch the Glee Club. After returning to her roots, Rachel is able to rekindle her old passion and go back to chasing her dreams. Her passion pays off, and she finally wins that Tony Award.
Though Rachel has always been a meticulous planner, she couldn’t foresee any of the failures she met along the way to achieving her goals. Rachels’ turbulent journey shows us that there’s no definition of success, and even more, what’s important in life isn’t awards or fame but the people and the passion. This year would have been rough for the performer as the current situation has forced Broadway to shut down. But we think Rachel’s made the best of it. We can see her launching virtual performances of beloved musicals with fellow Broadway stars. She’s also probably working on writing a musical in her downtime – most likely with help from Kurt and Blaine and feedback from her husband, Jesse.
In honor of Rachel’s 26th birthday, let’s look back on some of her finest performances. She’s had many, but these were on another level.
As one of the last songs sung by Rachel, This Time hits differently. It’s full of sorrow at the prospect of saying goodbye. But also filled with hope as Rachel sings about always remembering the times she spent in McKinley High’s Glee Club. This Time, and an original song written by Darren Kriss, aka Blaine, is the perfect swan song for Rachel Berry.
Being Good Isn’t Good Enough
Rachel tackles a Barbra song for NYADA’s winter showcase. This was a time in her life when she was feeling insecure about her place at the stringent school. Being Good Isn’t Good Enough perfectly illustrates the depth of Rachel’s drive to be the very best. Her stunning performance ends with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Roots Before Branches
This song by the band Room For Two is another of Rachel’s solos that cut deep. Roots Before Branches is featured in the last episode of season 3. In this scene, Rachel is saying her goodbyes before leaving for New York. Rachel is forced to leave behind her dearest friends and Finn, the love of her life. The song’s lyrics speak to Rachel’s journey as she moves away from her days at Glee Club to begin her training at NYADA.
Make You Feel My Love
Rachel’s heart-wrenching rendition of Make You Feel My Love will forever haunt the halls of McKinley High. She sings the song as a tribute to Finn after his death as it was the song they used to sing together in the car. No one who hears this solo can deny the depth of pain and loss that emulates from Rachel as she sings with tears streaming down her face.
Don’t Rain On My Parade
When Rachel sings Barbra, she lights up the room. From the very first episode of Glee, we knew Rachel has a set of pipes on her. But it was in the 13th episode of season 1 that Rachel blew us away with her fantastic performance of Don’t Rain On My Parade. This is the song that put Rachel on the map and made everyone realize that Rachel Berry is a star whether they wanted to or not.