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Interview: 'American Idol' finalist Haley Reinhart coming home for the holidays

EntertainmentMusicHaley ReinhartCasey AbramsMagnificent Mile Lights Festival

Haley Reinhart would like to apologize to the fans who waited for her outside of the Allstate Arena in August.

The Wheeling native — who hasn’t been home much since finishing third on Fox’s “American Idol” in May — had just met with hundreds of friends and family following the “American Idols Live!” show. She described the get-together as a “zoo” and said she was a bit overwhelmed as she left the venue.

“I know there were a lot of people that were upset I didn’t go out and sign for them,” said Reinhart over the phone from her apartment in Hollywood Sunday. “I was very torn. I hope I didn’t leave too many people feeling left out.”

Fortunately for Reinhart’s hometown fans, they will have another opportunity to meet the 21-year-old singer this weekend.

Reinhart and fellow Season 10 “Idol” Casey Abrams are singing the Christmas duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” at the 20th annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on North Michigan Avenue Saturday and appearing in the procession later that evening. The duo will also perform the song on ABC’s “Windy City Live” Monday, which is when the song will be available for download (Reinhart didn't sing during her appearance on the show in August because her contract with "Idol" prevented her from performing outside of the tour).

Reinhart said “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” holds a special place in her heart because she used to perform it with her musician father, Harry. Reinhart’s dad, some of you might remember, played guitar during her “Idol” performance of Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.”

“My whole family made a Christmas album when I was about 12,” Reinhard said. “We put together all these different holiday classics. … My dad and I sang ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ and that was everybody’s favorite around town. It was a quirky album. I was so happy to be able to bring that song back and make my dad proud.”

In addition to recording the Christmas classic, Reinhart has been hard at work on her post-”Idol” debut album. She said she hopes to have the album done by the end of the year so that it can be released in the first quarter of next year.

“Right now I’m leaning toward a very retro, Motown sound from the ‘60s that has some hip-hop drum beats mixed in …” Reinhart said. “There’s definitely soul in all of it. I really do like where it’s going. I have a lot of fun doing the background (vocals) and everything else. I’m a huge fan of three-part harmonies — all the little things that make it a song.”

Reinhart said the recording process takes up most of her time these days, but she expects to return home for Christmas as long as everything goes according to schedule. And it’s a good thing, too, because Reinhart repeatedly mentioned how much she misses her family. Asked what she misses most about her hometown (other than her family and friends), Reinhart said:

“There’s definitely a feeling of warmth in Chicago. … The people are welcoming. Nobody is trying to be something they’re not. It is what it is.”

Twitter @aboutluisgomez

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