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'American Idol's' Pia Toscano Parts Ways With Interscope, 19 Recordings (Exclusive)

The Season 10 favorite cites a "difference of opinion" and constant delays of her debut album for the split from her label, telling THR, "I'm finally getting to have a strong voice for what I want to create."

pia toscano publicity 2011
Andrew McLeod

Hers was the most shocking elimination of American Idol's tenth season, but a little over a year since the show wrapped for Pia Toscano, the singer has parted ways with 19 Recordings and Interscope.

In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Toscano reveals that a "difference of opinion" was the reason for the delay of her debut album on the Universal-owned major label. She had hoped the record would be ready for a fall release.

"It makes sense for me because I really want to get my music out there," says Toscano of the split. "It’s been a little while, yes, but to be honest, I'm happy for this delay because I don't think I was ready for it when this all started happening." She still plans to release a record when the "timing is right."

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Toscano adds that she holds no ill will towards 19, American Idol or Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine, whom she called "an incredible mentor."

"He’s so great at what he does," she said of working with the Interscope head and veteran producer. "I am blessed to have that [experience] as part of my life." 

Her future recording plans are a continuation of her work with Grammy-winning producers Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas -- aka The Underdogs -- the former with whom she was first paired on Idol where she performed and recorded, among other songs, Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."

"Harvey worked with Whitney Houston and she has been my idol who I’ve looked up to my whole life," says Toscano. "[She's] why I started singing and to be in his hands, as well as Damon’s, is truly an honor."

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The feeling is mutual. "It’s rare that you find an artist that has the complete package and the powerhouse vocal ability to match,” says Thomas. Adds Mason Jr.: “Because of that, we have the opportunity to do something truly special. We will be looking to create what we hope are worldwide hit records that will establish Pia as a long-lasting, landmark artist."

Toscano auditioned five times for American Idol before finally making it to the show on season 10, and once she did get through to the top 13, she was almost immediately hailed as a frontrunner. However, in a surprising result, Toscano was eliminated on week 9 after performing Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High." The uproar over her early exit led to a quick signing with Interscope and a single, the song "This Time," which Toscano performed on the American Idol summer tour.

But while the Howard Beach, New York native was "thrilled" to get a recording contract so soon after the show, Toscano had difficulties navigating the waters of the music industry as she emerged from the Idol bubble. 

"When I did get my deal with Interscope, I was over the moon, [but I] never realized how difficult it would be," Toscano tells THR. "Coming from a show where you're singing other peoples' songs to becoming an artist ... You have to work harder than ever." 

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Toscano says these complexities slowed down the recording process. "There were a lot of opinions going on, and there was also mine," she explains. "The audience sees through everything, and if you are not true to who you are, they are going to know. I wanted an album that I could believe in and I could stand by, and I have the perfect team to do that right now."

That team includes Redlight Management's Mark Didia. 19 Management is also no longer in the picture.

When asked what kind of album she hopes will best represent her sound, Toscano cited season one winner Kelly Clarkson and The Voice judge Christina Aguilera as examples of the kind of "pop artists with soul" she hopes to emulate. The 23-year-old adds that she wants to create songs for her teenage fanbase to help them deal with bullying and other life issues. Says Toscano: "When they put on my album and listen to my songs, I want them to feel like, 'Everything’s OK. Pia went through that, I can get through this.'"

The proof is in her own perseverance wading through the big boy world of the music industry and making it to the other side. "I’m finally getting to have a strong voice for what I want to create, says Toscano. "An authentic album."

Twitter: @Idol_Worship