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'American Idol' Alum Allison Iraheta: 'I Was Done with Singing' and 'In a Sad Place'

With a new band, Halo Circus, and her major label days behind her, the season eight finalist is smiling for a change. "I know who I am now," she tells THR.

Allison Iraheta Halo Circus L

Happy days are here again for American Idol season eight finalist Allison Iraheta, who debuts her new group, Halo Circus, Wednesday night at the famed Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip after a rough bout of post-show trauma.

“I was done with singing,” the 20-year-old Glendale, Calif. native tells The Hollywood Reporter when asked about coping with being dropped from Jive Records. “I was in a very sad place musically with my career. I didn’t feel anything was happening. I didn’t feel anything was going to happen. I was thinking maybe this just isn’t for me. It was really hard, because emotionally I couldn’t handle it anymore. And since I was really young and didn’t know who I was, it makes sense to me now.”

Then Iraheta had a phone call from her friend David Immerman, who played guitar when she toured with Adam Lambert and Orianthi. Immerman had written a song with Matthew Hager and wanted Iraheta to record the vocal. “I thought, why not? I’m not doing anything,” says Iraheta. A few days later, Iraheta had just woken up and had barely warmed up her vocal chords when she arrived at the studio to record the song. After the session, Hager asked her, “Why aren’t you writing or recording? What’s happening with your career?”

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She tried to explain to Hager what she was going through. “I was terrified. I was having a blast and then I got dropped and everything was gone, everything I had wanted to and had been working toward. It was tough for me to process that. Matthew said we should write a song and have fun. Two or three weeks after that we wrote our first song.”

Still, there was no idea to start a band or for Iraheta to continue working with Hager. “We liked being creative, and I thought it might be an opportunity to reintroduce myself to the music world. And it was.”

The song that Iraheta and Hager wrote is called “Gone.” “It’s about the experience of getting dropped,” says the Idol grad. “It’s a very sad song. But out of that came more sessions and more songs and the realization that I had to admit how hurt I was.” They wrote songs with Immerman and after four songs, the trio felt it made sense to form a band. “Our souls were patched together in this project,” says Iraheta. “It was so honest. We felt like a family, so we continued to write as a band.”

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The three members named their group Halo Circus. “I thought it was appropriate to name the band after the sacred space we choose to live in in terms of the halo, and circus as this world and how crazy it is,” says Iraheta.

The group has nine songs completed and has been working on three more. They’re recording them in Spanish and English. In January they had an opportunity to play a few songs at the Troubadour. Drummer Valerie Franco played with them that night and is now the official fourth member of Halo Circus.

On Wednesday, Halo Circus plays the Whisky for the first time, and you can bet that Allison is smiling at last. “For the first time, it absolutely does feel organic to me," she says. "When I was part of the Idol machine and toured and released a record in under three months, I had nothing but fun. I was glad to have people telling me what to do and how to sound, because I didn’t know what it was I wanted to sound like at the time. I was cool with that. But I think it was a blessing to have been dropped and to have questioned whether I really wanted to take on music seriously. Now I really know how to protect it. Now I know how to introduce it. I know who I am now.”

Twitter: @Idol_Worship