Hers was the most shocking elimination of "American Idol's" tenth season, but a little over a year since the show wrapped for Pia Toscano, the singer has parted ways with 19 Recordings and Interscope.
In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Toscano reveals that a "difference of opinion" was the reason for the delay of her debut album on the Universal-owned major label. She had hoped the record would be ready for a fall release.
"It makes sense for me because I really want to get my music out there," says Toscano of the split. "It's been a little while, yes, but to be honest, I'm happy for this delay because I don't think I was ready for it when this all started happening." She still plans to release a record when the "timing is right."
Toscano adds that she holds no ill will towards 19, "American Idol" or Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine, whom she called "an incredible mentor."
"He's so great at what he does," she said of working with the Interscope head and veteran producer. "I am blessed to have that [experience] as part of my life."
Her future recording plans are a continuation of her work with Grammy-winning producers Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas -- aka The Underdogs -- the former with whom she was first paired on "Idol" where she performed and recorded, among other songs, Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."
Toscano auditioned five times for "American Idol" before finally making it to the show on season 10, and once she did get through to the top 13, she was almost immediately hailed as a frontrunner. However, in a surprising result, Toscano was eliminated on week 9 after performing Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High." The uproar over her early exit led to a quick signing with Interscope and a single, the song "This Time," which Toscano performed on the "American Idol" summer tour.
But while the Howard Beach, New York native was "thrilled" to get a recording contract so soon after the show, Toscano had difficulties navigating the waters of the music industry as she emerged from the "Idol" bubble.
"When I did get my deal with Interscope, I was over the moon, [but I] never realized how difficult it would be," Toscano tells THR. "Coming from a show where you're singing other peoples' songs to becoming an artist ... You have to work harder than ever."
Toscano says these complexities slowed down the recording process. "There were a lot of opinions going on, and there was also mine," she explains. "The audience sees through everything, and if you are not true to who you are, they are going to know. I wanted an album that I could believe in and I could stand by, and I have the perfect team to do that right now."
When asked what kind of album she hopes will best represent her sound, Toscano cited season one winner Kelly Clarkson and "The Voice" judge Christina Aguilera as examples of the kind of "pop artists with soul" she hopes to emulate.
"I'm finally getting to have a strong voice for what I want to create, says Toscano. "An authentic album."