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Magazine > CELEBRITY
As seen in the March/April 2012 issue.

American Flare
Pia Toscano's parents must have done something right.
By Dan Horowitz

When the 22-year-old singer from Queen's, New York was eliminated from last season's American Idol in what will surely go down in the annals of "WTF?" moments in television history, she carried herself with nothing but grace and dignity.

As for everyone else… well, that's a different story. When host Ryan Seacrest announced the unbelievable results during the April 7 broadcast, much of the studio audience began to boo, doing its best impression of an angry mob short of torches and placards. Judge Jennifer Lopez, in complete disbelief, covered her face, shouting "I have no idea what just happened here. I'm shocked. I'm angry," while Randy "Dawg" Jackson shouted, "This makes me mad!"

Toscano, meanwhile, remained the picture of grace and professionalism, telling host Ryan Seacrest, "I'm good," before delivering her swan song, an ironic and heartfelt performance of "I'll Stand By You."

An ironic choice considering when America voted, they stood by other contestants and left poor Pia to exit the competition. Her sobs could be heard during her graceful finale.

Before her premature ninth-place exit, Toscano spent much of the competition with what appeared to be the inside track to success. But it just wasn't in the cards.

Still, as they say, "when a door closes, a window does something-or-other" and less than 24 hours after her startling exit from talent show, the dark-haired beauty with the powerful pipes scored a record deal. She'll be releasing her debut album early in 2012 under the Interscope Records imprint, chaired by American Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine.

"Jimmy was an amazing mentor during my time on Idol," Toscano gushes. "I feel like I'm in really good hands. The most important thing for me is feeling safe with my team. I think they have a good vision for me and when my career is going to go."

On the phone from Los Angeles, a town she's called home since September, the singer's enthusiasm for her debut record comes through.

"The album is made up of all original songs and, although I really don't like to be pigeon-holed, or limit myself to one genre of music, it is a pop record with a bit of an R&B influence. There are a lot of high-tempo songs on it, but there are also some heartfelt ballads."

As for her infamous Idol elimination, Toscano appears to have suffered from eye-of-the-storm syndrome, because at the time she didn't even know it was such a big deal.

"Actually, the night before I was eliminated, I had a weird feeling that I would be going home that next night," she explains. "I was even trying to prepare myself for it, mentally. But, when it actually happens, it's a different story. I was upset, but I had no idea it caused such a commotion until I saw it on TV the next day."

Despite the heartache that accompanied her surprise exit, Toscano wouldn't change a thing.

"American Idol completely changed my life," she says. "Before Idol I was just a wedding singer, trying to make it on my own and, many times, feeling that it wasn't going to happen for me; that maybe it was just a silly dream. But, thanks to Idol, everything changed overnight. It's funny, but when I was first eliminated, I figured that was it, that I gave it a shot, but that it was time to return to New York and my wedding band. I didn't think that anybody would want to work with me because I was number nine. But, I was so fortunate to start doing in-studio demo work for Interscope right away. Then, they picked up my option just before I left on the Idols tour. This is a dream come true."

And despite a short-lived romance with Dancing With the Stars hot-stepper Mark Ballas, Toscano's demanding schedule leaves little time to find another dance partner.

"Right now, I really don't have any time for a personal life," she explains. "I'm here to work on the album. In fact, it's probably good that I don't have many friends down here, which would just be too much of a distraction. On the other hand, my family's all back in New York, and I miss them like crazy."

But before you start feeling too bad for her, the sports fan admits she was able to get out of the recording studio long enough to take in her first live NHL game.

"I went to the Los Angeles Kings' game and I had such a great time," she says, even though she fully owns up to a preference for Yankees baseball. "It was so great to experience it – the speed, the skills, in person. It was just awesome."

Plus, when the album is released, Toscano says she plans to finally get out and enjoy some of Los Angeles' famed nightlife. And she's pretty straightforward when discussing what kind of man she'd like to have as her plus one.

"I like a true gentleman; the guy who opens my car door and, if I'm cold, will put his jacket around my shoulders," she says. "I also love a guy who has a sense of humour and who doesn't take himself too seriously, and who will laugh with me. I would take personality over looks any day, as long as they are respectful. I come from a very strict Italian-Catholic upbringing and my father will love the guy who makes me feel safe and happy."

So guys, if you happen to be at the Staples Centre taking in a Kings' game, and you're lucky enough to run into a certain superstar-in-the-making, be sure to offer her your jacket. After all, it gets pretty chilly in those arenas.

For more stories from the Mar/Apr 2012 issue of The Fourth Period Magazine, pick up a copy or subscribe today.


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