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'American Idol' Alum Crystal Bowersox Signs New Label Deal (Exclusive)

The season nine runner-up joins the roster at Shanachie, home to renowned world acts and reggae compilations and one of the country's longest-running independent record companies.

Crystal Bowersox 2012 L
Meg Bitton

American Idol alum Crystal Bowersox has landed a new deal at Shanachie Records. Current home to Ruben Studdard, Flobots, Mint Condition and Rusted Root along with such renowned world acts as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Ofra Haza, the company, founded in 1975 and distributed by E1, is among the country’s longest-running independent labels. In Oct. 2011, Bowersox, who came in second on season nine of Idol, parted ways with 19 Recordings and Sony Music subsidiary Jive Records.

“I'm happy to get back to work and glad that everything fell into place with Shanachie,” the Ohio native tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I was going at it alone and now I don't have to.”

In the last year-plus, Bowersox has written nearly 18 songs in various stages of completion. She spent time in Santa Fe, New Mexico where her top priority was: “getting my head on straight” Now it’s time for that material, which Bowersox describes as “rootsy,” “folky” and “a little more subdued,” to “get out into the world.” Her management is hoping for an early 2013 release. 

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“I'm in a good place in my heart and my life and it’s reflecting in the music,” adds Bowersox, who says she’s grown up more in the last two years than she ever imagined. “I think between [age] 25 and 27, something happens to your brain -- that's where I'm at.”

That includes being not just at peace with her TV show past, but proud of the experience. “I have to be real with myself and know that all the goodness and opportunity would not have been possible had I not done the show,” she says. “I am so lucky to have graced that stage. People recognize me on the street and it's an incredible blessing. Idol brings nothing but good -- to the people that allow it.”

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As for what comes next in her career: deciding on a producer, first, settling on a city to record in (most likely L.A., Nashville or New York) and “letting things create themselves,” Bowersox muses. “I want to be open to whatever transpires. I have to get out of my own way.”

It’s a lesson many Idol grads end up learning the hard way, and Bowersox, now married and based in Portland, Ore., is no exception. Still, you get the sense that her once trademark stubbornness has subsided somewhat. I'm learning to go with the flow a little more,” says the mother of one. “And I've come around in that I'm looking forward to collaboration because that's way that you grow. Learning through others’ experience: I'm down for it. I'm ready.”

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin