Naya rivera was a breakout star on Glee. The FOX musical dramedy empowered young people who felt like outcasts to embrace their individuality and amassed a loyal following of "Gleeks" as a result. Stepping into the shoes of Santana Lopez, Rivera gave a voice to members of the Latinx and LGBTQ+ community. Her character initially joined her school’s Glee Club as a joke, but wound up having some very impressive pipes and learning about herself along the way. Many of the show’s most-memorable moments include Rivera’s poignant singing, and Rivera wound up being a fan-favorite on the series. Naya Rivera’s Glee solos especially capture the presence she brought to the show, and the legacy she left behind.
While many stars came and went throughout Glee’s run, Rivera appeared in nearly every episode. And while she was tasked with portraying a mean-spirited cheerleader, Rivera infused the potentially one-note character with so much heart and relatability that fans fell in love with her and her story. For these reasons, it was all the more heartbreaking when the actress went missing on July 8, and was later discovered dead in California’s Lake Piru.
The tragedy has hit Glee fans hard, but Rivera’s most moving musical moments on the show are a reminder of her enduring legacy from the show.
1. "Valerie" – Amy Winehouse
It was via a song from Amy Winehouse that Rivera really caught fans’ attention on Glee. When belting out "Valerie" on Season 2, Episode 9, she completely commanded attention, and would go on to sing it various times in the show, making it her signature song.
2. Adele Mashup
Rivera slayed a mashup of Adele’s two biggest hits, "Someone Like You," and "Rumour Has it" during Season 3, Episode 6. You can see her shining solo moment at the 0:55 time stamp.
3. "Mine" – Taylor Swift
When Santana Lopez and Brittany Pierce were struggling with their long distance relationship in Season 4, Episode 4, they shared an emotional moment to the tune Rivera’s twist on Swift’s classic love ballad.
4. "If I Die Young" – The Band Perry
After Rivera’s body was found on July 13, many fans on Twitter pointed out the coincidence that Rivera once sang "If I Die Young" on Glee following the tragis death of her co-star Cory Monteith during Season 5, Episode 3.
5. "Girl on Fire" – Alicia Keys
Rivera brought the heat in Season 4, Episode 13, when she gave a powerful performance of Key’s anthemic track "Girl on Fire."
6. "Don’t Rain On My Parade" – Barbra Streisand
Glee Season 5, Episode 9 served up a dicey scene between Santana and Rachel entitled "Frenemies," but Santana wasn’t letting anyone dull her shine. The Glee club members served up a flawless rendition of Streisand’s "Don’t Rain On My Parade."
7. "Smooth Criminal" – Michael Jackson
OK, this was technically a duet, but it’s hard to mention Rivera’s standout moments on Glee without looking back on her impeccable Michael Jackson cover with Grant Gustin from Season 3, Episode 11.
8. "Songbird" – Fleetwood Mac
Rivera pulled at Gleek’s heartstrings in Season 2, Episode 19, when she sang an emotional cover of "Songbird" during one of her most-intimate moments with between Santana and Brittany, singing the ballad directly to her future wife.
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