What's next for Haley Reinhart? More music, maybe movies
"When all this touring is finished," Haley Reinhart said, "I'd love to start taking classes for acting and improv."
Does this mean that the Wheeling High School grad wants to follow in the footsteps of another "American Idol" alum, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, in moving from music to movies?
"I never say never," Reinhart said. "I'm now trying different things."
First things first. Reinhart, whose retro-pop, neo-soul, bluesy jazz aesthetic has enabled her to travel the world and perform original works as well as pop classic covers, will hit Chicago with her concert tour Sunday, Nov. 5, at Lincoln Hall. She's touring in support of her new album, "What's That Sound?"
The tour caps a tumultuous year for Reinhart. It began with her first gold record -- a cover of Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" -- and included her highly publicized arrest this summer in Palatine.
Reinhart was charged with misdemeanor battery after authorities say she struck a member of the security staff at Lamplighter Inn Tavern & Grille. Reinhart, through her attorney, denied that charge, and the matter is still pending. One of her friends was badly hurt, and a bartender was charged with two counts of aggravated battery.
A Reinhart publicist cautioned that Reinhart could not answer questions about the fight.
She did, however, talk about her career, her mentors back in Wheeling and her interest in moving beyond music.
Reinhart did some acting in school plays and for pageants, performed some stand-up comedy, plus made a cameo appearance in a "90210" episode. She also supplies the voice of Bill Murphy in the Netflix comedy series "F is for Family."
Could the case be made that Reinhart, in fact, takes on a role when she steps out on stage?
"It's not even quite an alter-ego of mine," she said of her onstage persona. "I'm just living out my truth."
Stage performing does give the 27-year-old singer -- who rose to fame in 2011 as an "American Idol" top three finalist -- the perfect excuse to wear what she loves: high heels.
"Yeah," she said. "I just love accessories and clothing. I'm actually packing right now to hit the road. I'm making sure to pack my heels and my go-go boots this time around!"
For her Nancy Sinatra covers?
"You know it!" she said.
Reinhart came by music naturally, beginning with her musician parents, Harry and Patti Miller-Reinhart.
Wheeling High School teacher Brian Logan heard her performing with her dad and made her the soloist for the school's jazz band. She toured with the band to Chicago-area venues, plus the Montreux and Umbria jazz festivals.
"That was my very first experience at being able to sing at not only the biggest jazz fest, but, as a kid, just looking out at thousands of people and getting that kind of experience on stage."
She credits another Wheeling High teacher, Orin Xavier, with bolstering her confidence as a singer.
"I remember how I was doing a monologue, and he said he wanted me to perform the song 'White Rabbit,'" Reinhart said, "Really? That counts? He said, 'Yeah. that's a form of expression.' Now, flash-forward. I'm performing that song every night on my tour and recorded the song on my album. So it's all kind of cool and full-circle."
She got further support at Harper College, from music instructor Kenneth Spurr.
"The great thing about Ken was that he and Logan both just kind of threw me into the lake and said, 'We know you'll swim! You'll figure it out!'
"They just threw a lot of different material at me. That really prepared me for all the times that I really needed to get things accomplished in a quick time."
So what's next for Reinhart?
"Who knows?" she said. "I may put out a '70s record or a jazz record. or continue to put out original material. I'm constantly setting new goals. I just got my first gold record. I'm reaching for the stars!"'
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Haley Reinhart's "What's That Sound?" tourWheeling High School alum and "American Idol" singer Haley Reinhart will perform songs from her new album at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Tickets $28, $33 at the door. lh-st.com.