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Image: Haley Reinhart
Matt Sayles  /  AP
Haley Reinhart arrives at the "American Idol Finale" on Wednesday, May 25, in Los Angeles.
Hollywood Reporter
updated 6/1/2011 6:49:49 PM ET 2011-06-01T22:49:49

Imagine this: It’s the week after your "American Idol" elimination, the top 2 are about to take the stage at the Nokia Theater for the first of a two-part finale when you get a tug on the arm from an "Idol" minder telling you to be ready — it might be you on that stage instead.

Such was Haley Reinhart’s Tuesday afternoon on May 24, which started out with one simple responsibility, a nice smile as the camera panned on the top 11 finalists, and ended with a flurry of drama as finalist Lauren Alaina blew a vocal cord and, for a minute there, looked like she might not compete.

Of course, we know how things turned out, with Scotty McCreery as the last one standing, but, it sure was fun getting to that result. We caught up with Haley two days after the finale to recap season 10’s final hours and to look ahead to her own future as a recording artist.

Photos from THR: Inside the 'Idol' finale

Those of us covering the finale heard about Lauren’s voice going out 30 minutes before showtime, when were you first informed that you might need to step in?

Haley Reinhart: Like everything else, it was pretty last-minute. Literally, maybe a half an hour before stuff was getting rolling. I was rushing to get ready, and they pulled me aside and said, “Here's what's going on.” They gave me the lowdown.

THR: What was your reaction?

Reinhart: It freaked me out a little bit, I'm not gonna lie. It was huge, and I almost just fell to my feet, I was just really shocked. But I knew she would pull through. Lauren wouldn't let that happen — she probably would have regretted it for the rest of her life, so I'm glad she was able to get up there. I didn't want to take that from her.

THR: You had two songs ready to go, including “Benny and the Jets,” which many considered your breakthrough performance…

Slideshow: ‘American Idol’ season 10 finale (on this page)

Reinhart: I actually practiced three songs that I had already done on the show. But I knew in my heart it wouldn't happen. I didn't even want it to. I thought, on one hand, it's an honor to be able to get that opportunity and how it's never happened before. On the other, it was hers to win or to lose. I already had my time to say goodbye.

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THR: Lauren’s situation aside, there was talk of you singing an original song on Wednesday’s show, as your parents revealed at a concert in Wheeling, IL...

Reinhart: That was going to happen. And then Bono came in and it was taken away.

THR: So you have a single?

'Idol' feud between DeWyze and Lythgoe

Reinhart: Probably not now, but it was an option when I was let go. They had said that it was going to happen, and like everything else in this business, it’s all subject to change. I was excited about it, but then again, I think I'd like to wait and come up with something that's very me. Everything happens for a reason, so it's all good.

THR: And you did get to perform with Tony Bennett. How much time were you able to spend rehearsing with him?

Reinhart: We went through different songs before I met him, and we'd already changed songs a couple times, but we ended up with "Steppin' Out With My Baby," which is actually the first jazz tune I ever learned in high school. He came in and we rehearsed it a couple times in a really small room with him and his quartet. It was absolutely amazing. He made it such a comfortable experience. He was just very cool, calm and collected. I was just in shock a little bit.

Photos from THR: 'American Idol' heartthrobs

Rodney Jerkins had mentioned that he was worried the stars would outshine the "Idol" finalists. Was it intimidating performing with a jazz legend?

Reinhart: It might have been in other situations, but I just felt comfortable around him. It was definitely his demeanor, because he's a sweet man, as well as the quartet, and as well as jazz in general. It's more natural for me. So it just came out.

THR: The group number with Beyonce required a lot of dancing, what was that like?

Reinhart: It was fun. I'm so glad we worked it out, because we didn't have that much time to learn it all and everything. We had a blast with it. And she's a sweetheart as well.

THR: Did you see the video of her singing "1 + 1" in the "Idol" dressing room? No gimmicks, no effects and Beyonce just kills it.

Photos from THR: Craziest 'American Idol' auditions

I haven’t seen it, but I wouldn't doubt it. She's amazing. That performance at the Billboard Awards, she sounded so magnificent. Like, how do you do something like that?

THR: What have you learned about the music business so far?

Reinhart: Probably a million and one things. How much advice you should take in, and when you should really listen to yourself. That’s probably the most important thing: to remember to stay true and stick up when need be, and to take a step back and soak everything in at the same time.

THR: Are you an Interscope artist now?

Reinhart: No, not as of yet, but there's time. I'm very, very eager to see what happens.

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Story: 'Idol' winner Scotty: I'm not dating Lauren

THR: Do you think Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson should be back next year or should they change up the judges’ table "X Factor"-style?

Reinhart: There's a lot of other vocal shows that are out right now, and I think because of the versatility that they've brought this season, why not keep it going as long as they can? This was such a success.

THR: Where do you see yourself in a year?

Reinhart: I see myself with an album out that hopefully reflects exactly who I am, and just performing in front of crowds like I've grown up doing. That would be fulfilling my biggest passion.

Copyright 2012 The Hollywood Reporter

Photos: 'American Idol' season 10 finale

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  1. Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery

    "American Idol's" season 10 finale came down to two country singers, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, with McCreery claiming the crown. The finale was held at the Nokia Theatre LA Live in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 25. A record-setting 122 million votes were cast. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Beyonce

    Beyonce rocked out with "Idol's" returning female finalists, performing her hit "Crazy in Love." (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. James Durbin and Judas Priest

    Fourth-place finisher James Durbin, right, once again gave metal a chance by performing with the heavy metal band Judas Priest. Durbin sang with band frontman Rob Halford on the songs "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Jack Black and Casey Abrams

    "Kung Fu Panda 2" star Jack Black, left, and sixth-place finisher Casey Abrams performed "Fat Bottomed Girls" during the "Idol" season 10 finale. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The top 13

    The top 13 contestants, from left, Thia Megia, Stefano Langone, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo, Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, Ashthon Jones, Paul McDonald, Haley Reinhart, Karen Rodriguez and Jacob Lusk performed together one more time. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga returned to the "Idol" stage again to perform her song "Edge of Glory." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Steven Tyler

    "Idol" judge Steven Tyler waved to the crowd as he walked onstage during the results show. His first season on the show was an eventful one. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Jacob Lusk and Gladys Knight

    Jacob Lusk, who finished in fifth place, performed "Smile" with Kurt Franklin and Gladys Knight. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Tim McGraw and Scotty McCreery

    Before the winner was announced, country star Tim McGraw performed a duet of "Live Like You Were Dying" with finalist Scotty McCreery. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Beyonce and the girls

    Pia Toscano, Ashthon Jones, Beyonce and Naima Adedapo performed together during the "Idol" finale. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Marc Anthony and J.Lo

    Marc Anthony, who appeared on an earlier episode of "American Idol" this season, came back to perform during the finale. His wife, judge Jennifer Lopez, joined him onstage to show off her dance moves. (Kevin Winter/american Idol 2011 / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The judges

    This year's "Idol" judging panel of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler acknowledged the crowd at the beginning of the finale show. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Haley Reinhart and Tony Bennett

    Third-place finisher Haley Reinhart performed "Steppin' Out With My Baby" with legend Tony Bennett during the "American Idol" season 10 finale. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The top guys

    The top six guys performed a group number during the "Idol" finale. They are, from left, Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk and Casey Abrams. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. "T-Boz" and "Chilli"

    Singers Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of TLC perform onstage. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Tom Jones and the guys

    The top 12 male finalists perform with special guest Tom Jones during the show's finale. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Carrie Underwood and Lauren Alaina

    Season four winner Carrie Underwood performed her hit song, "Before He Cheats," with finalist Lauren Alaina during the "Idol" season 10 finale. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Does whatever a spider can

    Even Spiderman showed up for the finale. Bono and The Edge of U2 and Reeve Carney were caught in the superhero's web. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. And the winner is ...

    Finalists Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina held each other for support as host Ryan Seacrest prepared to announce the winner of "American Idol" season 10. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Rooting for Scotty

    Fans celebrate Scotty McCreery's victory during a viewing party held at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. McCreery is from Garner, N.C. (Jim R. Bounds / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Great Scott!

    Winner Scotty McCreery hugs finalist Lauren Alaina as Jennifer Lopez hand him his trophy at the "American Idol" finale. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Group hug

    "Idol" contestants congratulate Scotty McCreery after he won. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Here comes the confetti

    Scotty McCreery celebrates with fellow contestants as confetti buries the stage. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. The new 'Idol'

    Scotty McCreery celebrates after being named the winner. The judges had all given a slight edge to Lauren Alaina the night before the results show. (Michael Becker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: Scotty talks about his first single