Haley Reinhart still bonds with Casey Abrams

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Haley Reinhart looks back on “American Idol” fondly — especially her connection with fellow 10th season contestant Casey Abrams.

Twelve years later, she’s still supporting Abrams, who has suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was young. Recently, he was hospitalized and underwent a lifesaving surgery that forced the removal of his entire colon.

Abrams will recover, but he needs more surgeries. Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to perform for pay since September 6, and that was his main source of income.

Reinhart recently collaborated with friends like Stephen Kramer Glickman, co-organizer Dylan Chambers for “With a Little Help from My Friends,” a benefit for Abrams at The Venice West in Venice, California.

“Casey’s one of my dearest friends, and we’ve remained very close and continue to collaborate musically throughout the years,” says Reinhart, who finished third on “Idol.”

“On ‘Idol,’ there were plenty of times he would have to duck out and go to the hospital. I’d have to hold a cutout picture of his head on a stick.”

Recently, friends set up a GoFundMe with a $100,000 goal. They raised $104,761 as of March 27. Reinhart says his surgery was frightening.

“It was very scary,” she recalls. “It wasn’t that much later — maybe three weeks — that we had a huge Thanksgiving jam session at my house, and he was able to sing and play music. It was great to see him on the up and up. I played a show at the Troubadour in LA, and he came out.”

He’s doing well, but he “isn’t out of the woods yet,” Reinhart says.

Reinhart and Abrams connected immediately on “Idol” but didn’t start hanging out and connecting until much later on the show.

“We’re two peas in a pod,” she says. “He seems in a much better place than he was in the beginning of this challenging time for him.”

New material

Reinhart is returning to the Musical Instrument Museum for an encore performance on Sunday, May 21.

Since “Idol,” Reinhart became the first of the show’s contestants to perform at Lollapalooza and earned widespread acclaim for her performances and tours with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.

Her most notable collaborations include a jazz cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” which spent 58 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s jazz digital songs chart. Her rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was used in a commercial for Extra Gum.

Acting has become another passion. She made her acting debut in Robert Rodriguez’s science-fiction superhero film “We Can Be Heroes,” which was released on Netflix in 2020.

Last September, she released the EP “Off the Ground,” which she calls a collection of “new songs and really old songs I love.”

“I hold on to things and wait until it’s right to put them out,” she says. She collaborated with longtime friends Anders Grahn and Tingsek.

“We did (the EP) from afar, from LA to Sweden,” Reinhart recalls.

“It was a challenge during the pandemic. It was just a great challenge to be able to get up at different times of the day and night and work through it together. But it was nice. I didn’t have anybody breathing down my neck. We took our time. I really wanted to make something that had authentic instrumentation. It brought my tunes I had written to a different level.”

Looking back on her “Idol” days, she says she never expected this type of success. She shares it with contestants on “American Idol.”

“In my wildest dreams, yes, I thought of this,” she says with a laugh.

“It takes a lot of hard work, but I’m in it for the long haul. I couldn’t have painted this exact picture. Of all the beautiful surprises in life, there are ones that are super exciting and magical. It’s like catching lightning in a bottle. It’s so nice to be on the other side of it and be a mentor for kids on the show.”

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