Lea Michele wants to ensure that people remember Cory Monteith for his decency, not his demons.
The Glee star covers the April 2014 issue of Seventeen and opens up about her late boyfriend, who died of an accidental drug overdose less than a year ago. "I only have happy memories of Cory. He was not his addiction—unfortunately, it won. But that wasn't who he was," the 27-year-old says of the fallen star. "Cory made me feel like a queen every day. From the minute he said, 'I'm your boyfriend,' I loved every day, and I thank him for being the best boyfriend and making me feel so beautiful."
The "Cannonball" singer decided to release her debut album, Louder, on March 4 for a special reason. "Just think about it: we're going to 'March fo(u)rth.' We're going to march forth like a cannonball," Michele says. "I try my best to march forth and live my life as best as I can for me. I also feel an incredible, happy responsibility to keep the memory and light of [Cory, who] was the most amazing person. I'm so happy to make it my journey now to continue on and live my life as best as I can."
Michele implies Monteith's death took her music in a different direction. "I set out to make a really pop-heavy album that was fun and empowering—I love Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson!" she explains. "But then I found myself picking and writing these songs that were very emotional and dramatic. Louder has songs that express extreme love and some pain. I look at it and think, That was my year. I didn't record any songs that I didn't completely relate to."
Though she's eager to pursue her solo career, Michele is still close to her famous co-stars.
"[The Glee cast] is the greatest group of people I have ever met in my entire life! We all lost Cory. I didn't think for one minute that being away from them was what I wanted," she tells the magazine. "Being on the set of Glee is no more difficult than being at home and finding [Cory's] slippers under the bed. We had a life and a job together—it goes with you everywhere you go. You can't get away from grief. So I might as well be surrounded by the people I love and get to lean on them."