By Vernoica Dudo

The American Idols LIVE! 2011 Tour rolled into Atlantic City over the weekend featuring the Top 11 contenders from season 10 of the reality TV competition American Idol. Performing at historic Boardwalk Hall the group captivated the crowd. Critics have called the finalists from this season some of the most talented contestants yet. This year, fans watched the hit TV show hosted by Ryan Seacrest, and judged by Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler. I spoke with Haley Reinhart, Stefano Langone and Thia Megia about the tour, life on the road, and their future music careers.

Haley Reinhart:

Welcome to Atlantic City.

HR: “Thank you—it’s beautiful.”

Have you been able to enjoy the boardwalk or the beach?

HR: “Yes and today I was just trying to squeeze in a little bit more time just because I wish we could stay here longer, it was literally one of the coolest city’s we’ve ever seen in my opinion; I’m sure everybody else would agree. I definitely took advantage of the beach, saw and went down the whole boardwalk, tried to take some videos and pictures and really soak it up–I haven’t done that with a lot of the other cities, but this place is special.”

You’re on the 2011 American Idol Live Tour–how is it going?

HR: “It’s wonderful, it’s been a whirlwind–everybody uses that term and I couldn’t find another word for It. It’s just crazy you know, and there’s always ups and downs. That’s just life. We’re working our butts off and it’s days like this, well yesterday really, that we get to enjoy those days off; but being up there on-stage we love the feeling the adrenaline every night so it’s been great.”

Are you releasing an album?

HR: I did recently just get signed from Interscope so I will be doing something. I kind of like to put my all into every project, every step of the way. So I’d much rather take this tour for exactly what it is and then afterwards, really put my heart and soul into the album. So I believe when the tour is over, I’ll be starting to get on top of everything and meeting with writers, producers, and trying to work it all out.

What type of music do you see yourself doing, rhythm and blues or pop music?

HR: “More rhythm and blues side definitely. I’m looking to do a very bluesy/sultry album with a lot of different genres incorporated; have a little jazz in there and some funk and rock and I really just see it meshing all together.”

You performed with music legend Tony Bennett–how was that experience?

HR: “Yes, oh gosh, he was amazing. He said a lot of sweet things that I’ll remember forever and it was crazy being able to stand up there and sing with a legend. And that song, “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” that was like the first jazz tune that I had ever learned way back in school so it was just a whole 360, it was very cool.”

Stefano Langone:

How has being on American Idol changed your life?

SL: “Well, it’s definitely put what I do in the limelight and that’s singing. But really for what I want to do and what I want to be, quote unquote famous, I really haven’t done anything yet. So it’s been a great platform, but at the same time I need to realize I have a long way to go to get to the place where I wanted to be before I tried out for American Idol and that’s have a foot in the door in the music industry and something big and so that’s what I’m working for.”

Looking ahead, where do you see your career going?

SL: I see myself on hopefully a second or third album, a well-known writer and known for my voice in the industry.

In addition to the tour, are you currently working on any projects?

SL: “Oh yeah, of-course! Always writing and always making new music and right now looks like we are in the process of finding a deal out and figuring out that whole thing and see what happens–what comes out if that.”

What genre do you see yourself performing?

SL: “It’s a weird thing, all I can say is it’s poppy, but is not the real pop right now– it has a mixture of things like funk and R&B and blues. I want to do real music, I want real instruments and I want real musicians to be a part of it and so that’s really what I’m looking for. If it’s on the pop radio, then it’s on the pop radio, if it’s not, I’m not worried about it. That’s really not my goal and I don’t really want to be known for being a pop star.”

American Idol judge, Jennifer Lopez was a big fan of yours this season, how did that make you feel?

SL: “It feels great, she helped a lot as well as Mark during the whole process and they’re both great people.”

How’s the tour going?

SL: “The tour’s going great! This is our 28th stop and it’s just been a whirlwind and it’s really cool to see the people who have supported you this whole time. It’s really cool to come in and leave with more fans. That’s kind of my goal right now; I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on the show, but this gives me an opportunity to come in and really establish myself as a high class performer and vocalist and that’s what I’m doing each and every night and it feels good and it feels good leaving here with more fans.”

Thia Megia:

Have you been able to enjoy the Atlantic City beach and boardwalk at all?

TM: “Yeah, we actually drove in from New York yesterday morning and we hung out a bit at the Trump and I didn’t know that we were next to the beach until I opened the curtains and saw a beautiful view of it outside and so I was so excited. Yesterday was probably one of the best days off we’ve ever had so far. I got to spend some time with my mom, we walked on the boardwalk and we spent pretty much the whole day there and then we walked back on the beach at night and it was just so perfect; the moon was beautiful reflecting off of the ocean, it was just wonderful.”

You’re one of the youngest on the tour—how are you handling the intense schedule?

TM: “Well, the schedule has been really busy and I’ll have to admit that it has been hard at times, but despite that, I know I want to be doing this for the rest of my life. I want to be touring and just sharing my music with my fans from all around the world. And I met a couple of younger kids today, who recognized me and I just realized they’re one of the main reasons why I do what I do because American Idol is such a successful show. You have a fan base of all ages. You know it’s something that really inspires me– to just accomplish a lot more, but it’s been a wonderful experience for me. Yeah, it has been hard sometimes. I do miss my family back home, but they understand that throughout this whole experience, we’ve all worked so hard to get to where we are right now, but I’m just so glad to be a part of this. Top 11 is the first time they’ve ever done it, so I was almost there and I made it, so I’m really happy about that.”

How’s the tour going?

TM: “It’s been going great; I start school in like two days. So, we’re trying to figure out how that will work, but we’ll work it out. The tour so far has just been amazing and I love to travel and so just being able to travel and perform at the same time is a dream come true for me because I love both. I have a strong passion for both and I’ve seen cities that I’ve always wanted to see and I finally got to and it’s so much different from the experience on the show because you actually get to see your fans and interact with them and just connect with them a lot more — rather than just connecting with them through the camera. But it’s been wonderful.”

Do you have plans after the tour?

TM: “I do. I’m also a songwriter and so right now I’m working on my originals and just basically working on trying to record my originals and get it out there. I do want to be signed so I’m working on that as hard as I can, but we’ve all been super busy throughout this whole thing, but it’s all worth it.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

TM: “I see myself doing a bunch of things. I do want to record an album and just let my fans hear it and hear the musical sides of me that I haven’t been able to show on TV. I know I sing a lot of ballads, but what I really want to work on is proving the fact that I love to sing pretty much any type of genre and not a lot of my fans have heard some of my originals, so I do want to put that out as well and I might try to get into acting and writing as well. I love to write poetry and stories and that has also helped with my songwriting, but I also want to try to get a taste of what it’s like to be in that kind of industry as well.”

Buzz @ the Beach

The 2011 Atlantic City Air Show is scheduled over the beach for Wednesday, August 17. For the weekend, Human Nature’s appearing at Caesars Casino, Straight No Chaser’s at Harrah’s, and Styx will be performing at the Borgata.

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