On season 10 of American Idol, fans around the country fell in love with Illinois sweetheart Haley Reinhart for her soulful vibe and smoky vocals. After touring with Idol in 2011 and returning to the stage for an episode in March, the next step for Haley was the debut of her first solo album, Listen Up!, which dropped on May 22 and is available now! J-14 caught up with the star to get the scoop on her Idol journey, her latest project, and those pesky dating rumors.

J-14: What are fans going to love about your debut album, Listen Up!?
Haley Reinhart:
It's very relatable. It has both breakup and lovey-dovey songs. There are some more inspiring, worldly things, too. There's a song I wrote about counting our blessings because this place is so wonderful. I think they can expect it to be different, but completely me — elements of R&B, soul, and rock, and hints of jazz, funk, and pop. There's a great song called "Oh My" that I have a little [collaboration] with B.o.B. There are things everyone can move to.

J-14: We hear you're a fan of Idol's season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez?
I am! I think she's fantastic. She has the whole package. There are three other contestants that are returning idols. I'm really proud that they've grown as artists and come back around. They're doing great.

J-14: How do you find inspiration for your songs?
I could be anywhere, like at the gas station. I'll just whip out my phone and do a little voice memo, just sing the lines. If words come up I'll just put them down on a little note pad. There's a song that I wrote the second I got on a plane on my way to Switzerland. Just start to finish. It was very easy. There are over 300 voice memos that I haven't even tapped into yet!

J-14: What was it like to be back for a guest performance on the Idol stage in March?
It was awesome. I love the fact that I've been given the opportunity to go back and bring it full circle. I got to see all the people that I spent a year and a half with, like family and meet the new contestants. So many things getting thrown at you! Finding your center, taking it all in. I just went out there and did my thing.

J-14: There are rumors that you're dating another season 10 finalist…
I'm really close with a lot of the idols. I always hang out with Casey [Abrams] and Stefano [Langone]. We're all in the same area, so I definitely maintain a close bond with those guys, as well as a lot of other contestants. We're all pretty much based in L.A. So it's funny — the rumors went from Casey to Stefano. Maybe it will be Jacob [Lusk] next!

Photo: Courtesy of Interscope Records

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