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As countless citizens struggle with pink slips, so are major label artists, it seems. Take American Idol alum Haley Reinhart, who found herself swept up in a massive house cleaning at Interscope Records last month.
“I was more shocked than anything when I heard they were letting go of maybe 65 acts,” the 22-year old Wheeling, Illinois native tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I definitely want to be an artist that is being heard all the time, but they had a lot going on there and had to change things up, so I have to respect that. I’ll find another great home.”
Reinhart, who is still managed by 19 Entertainment, is moving forward with plans for 2013, which include a return to the studio to begin recording her next album. “I just want to evolve,” she says, adding, “it’s important to listen to your heart.”
Those plans are already in motion, as the season 10 third place finalist will be featured in one of two half-hour specials, Real Music Live, which premieres at 1 a.m. on Dec. 22 following Saturday Night Live. The program will be shown in the top six television markets, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago, Reinhart’s home city. Reinhart’s episode will air Jan. 5. Other featured performers include Faith Evans, Hoobastank, Mint Condition, Los Angeles indie-band Early Morning Rebel, Grammy nominated R&B artist Luke James and X Factor season one alum Chris Rene.
Mark Hill, executive producer of Real Music Live, said that Reinhart is exactly the type of artist he was looking for when he envisioned the show — a production that values entertainers that can “bring it” in a live setting. “She’s a good singer, and she has a sound that is kind of unique,” says Hill, a Chicago drummer who toured with major acts. “I saw her on YouTube and thought, ‘Wow.'”
Reinhart is also looking forward to her Real Music Live appearance, which she taped at The Grove in October. “It will be good to get back on the telly,” she said. “I will keep doing what I do and working my butt off. Good things will come I’m sure.”
That includes more fan interaction, like her three-day run in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan, where Reinhart carefully crafted a set that included her original material interspersed with “jazz standards and rock ‘n’ roll.” She’s also planning a holiday Stageit.com concert on Dec. 19, featuring her family and some of her favorite Christmas selections. Says Reinhart: “It’s a great way for people in the world who can’t come out to see you”
With all the ups and downs of life post-Idol, Reinhart insists that she’s thankful for “a fulfilling couple of years.” Among the highlights: her bow at Lollapalooza in Chicago, where she made history as the only Idol to appear at the legendary rock festival, and just this fall, she graced the stage at Carnegie Hall alongside musical soulmate Casey Abrams. The two Idols performed as guests of jazz trumpeter and band leader Irvin Mayfield, and Reinhart was humbled by the invite.
“That was one of the scarier things I have done,” she tells THR. “I was with the big boys, and I was so honored. I didn’t think that would happen. It just shows what being at the right place at the right time can do. I have Irvin Mayfield to thank for all that. Casey and I got up to sing with him at his jazz club, not knowing what was up and he liked us enough to bring us on stage for his big night.”
Looking ahead to the New Year, Reinhart is hoping to squeeze in a few more live dates, and even make time to watch the new season of American Idol. Naturally, we had to ask: which judge is she most excited to see?
“I’m more excited about Mariah Carey than anybody else because I think she has the total right to be there,” Reinhart demurs. “But there is definitely a huge dynamic going on, it will be very interesting. I hope we see some cat fights.”
Watch Reinhart’s performance of “Free” in Las Vegas below:
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