On Glee, Naya Rivera proved herself to be the ultimate triple threat. Starting out as the minor character Santana, she quickly stole scenes as the mean girl’s relationship with fellow cheerleader and best friend Brittany (Heather Morris) began to develop into one of the show’s most moving romantic pulses. By Season Two, her powerful vocal chops, seasoned dancing skills and impeccable comedic timing had already begun stealing scenes even when stars like Gwyneth Paltrow popped into the musical series.
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Much of Glee‘s second season followed Santana’s own coming out journey, and the popular girl with many foes is in constant danger of being outed by her classmates. The 19th episode of the season featured the music of Fleetwood Mac’s classic album Rumours to highlight the tempestuous romances on the show, including that of Brittana (Santana and Brittany). To test out expressing her love to Brittany publicly, Rivera’s character sang the Christine McVie-penned ballad “Songbird” in front of their glee club peers. The actress’ delivery is effortlessly moving as she soulfully belts the soothing, beautiful track. As Kehlani shared via a tweet after the news of Rivera’s death: “The reason ‘Songbird’ by Fleetwood Mac is one of my favorite songs ever is because of the Glee Soundtrack version. She transformed it.”
On Monday, Rivera was found dead at age 33 having drowned in California’s Lake Piru. She had rented a pontoon with her young son Josey before diving in and disappearing. A multi-day search mission began late last week, and Rivera’s body was found on the seventh anniversary of her Glee co-star Cory Monteith’s own untimely, tragic death at age 31.