Congratulations are due Haley Reinhart. "Free," the debut single from last year's third place finisher on 'American Idol,' is receiving strong positive reviews and pleasing her dedicated fans. She is gearing up for the May release of her debut album Listen Up! A star is on the rise. The afternoon of March 29, 2012 I had the opportunity to speak with her in the midst of a whirlwind of publicity work supporting "Free." In fact, the music video was launched today. Haley Reinhart is bursting with enthusiasm for both the support she is receiving in creating her musical vision and the ability to share that with fans and colleagues in the music industry.
It has been a year since 21 year old Haley Reinhart was in the midst of American Idol's season 10 of competition. She became known for making unique choices in songs to sing that more often than not perfectly fit her unique jazzy, bluesy, and slightly raspy voice. I asked her how things are different now from last year, and she is nearly bursting with excitement over making her dreams come true. I asked about moments to remember, and she quickly speaks about the recent Muhammad Ali 70th birthday celebration in which Haley Reinhart performed with rock guitar legend Slash and Alter Bridge lead vocalist Myles Kennedy.
I have always been curious about the development of Haley Reinhart's distinctive vocal style and asked her about her musical background. She speaks proudly of her parents, Harry Reinhart and Patti Miller-Reinhart. They are talented musicians who have played in their own band for over 20 years, and she began singing with them at age 8. Haley Reinhart says she grew up on a diet of classic 60s and 70s rock in addition to jazz and blues. Her father, Harry Reinhart, will in fact be featured as a guitarist on four tracks on the upcoming Listen Up! album.
I asked Haley Reinhart if there was a personal favorite of her American Idol performances, and she considers the question before responding. "I think it has to be Led Zeppelin's 'What Is and What Should Never Be,' because there was no way they were going to keep me from singing it." The song was first recorded on Led Zeppelin's legendary Led Zeppelin II album released in 1969. She was proud to have her father join her on stage for the performance the week American Idol was down to the final three contestants. Haley Reinhart's insistence on her independence in choosing songs to sing such as "House Of the Rising Sun" and Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" despite opinions of judges and producers was much discussed in the press. For many fans, it is this confidence that they admire in the young singer.
When asked about favorite songs from Listen Up!, she is hard pressed to name a single one in particular. Like many musicians, she takes pride in all of the songs she chooses to record. Haley Reinhart had a hand in writing a number of the tracks. I asked her if there would be any particular surprises for her fans on the album. She said, if anything, they might be surprised that there is relatively little rock feel to the music. Instead she has chosen to put together a mixture of Motown, funk, and jazz influences. All of that is evident to a degree in "Free."
I was curious what, for Haley Reinhart, is the best thing about performing her songs live. She cleverly turned the question around to say that performing live itself is the best thing for her about being a musician. There is nothing she finds more rewarding than sharing her songs and artistry live. Responding to a frequently asked question about which musician she would choose for a collaborator if the decision was completely her own, Haley Reinhart says, "I would have to say Paul McCartney, because I grew up with the Beatles." She mentions that the Beatles are a primary influence on her parents and consequently her own music.
Haley Reinhart is a young musician positively bubbling over in enthusiasm for her chosen profession and the opportunity to share her artistry and vision with fans. Haley Reinhart speaks quickly and with pride about her accomplishments and upcoming music as if she can not share her excitement and joy rapidly enough. She mentions with pleasure the impressive artistic freedom she has been granted by her label Interscope. She shares that the recently released "Free" music video incorporates many of her own ideas. Haley Reinhart is a pleasure to speak with, and she sounds like a star on the rise as she looks to be the next American Idol graduate to fulfill the promise of her success on the show.