Even though Haley Scarnato didn’t win “American Idol” in 2007, she’s still recognized everywhere she goes.
She finished in the top 10 that year, as did her friend LaKisha Jones. And they’ll be sharing the talent that landed them in the competition at the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s “Symphony Idol” concert on Saturday, May 9, at the LSU Rural Life Museum. They’ll be joined by fellow “Idol” alum Matt Giraud, who competed in the 2008 season.
They’ll join forces for a night of popular and country music beneath the stars on the museum’s grounds.
“We’ve been performing in ‘Symphony Idol’ concerts with other symphonies for the past two years,” Scarnato says. “Each symphony has its own personality, which is always fun. I’m really looking forward to the Baton Rouge concert — it’ll be outside, which will be so nice.”
Scarnato was speaking from Las Vegas, where she and her country band, Fairchild, were the opening act for Big & Rich’s recent concert. She also opens for Matt Goss’ Ceasar’s Palace show.
“This will be my first visit to Louisiana,” Scarnato says. “I grew up in San Antonio, where I started singing in a band at 15. We performed mostly at weddings.”
But the experience was valuable, enough to catapult her to a national audience in 2007, not to mention a national following.
“‘American Idol’ has had a huge impact on my life,” Scarnato says. “It’s opened so many doors. I was taken aback by it at first. It’s just so surreal. People are always asking if I’m Haley. When we landed in New York, and a lot of people came up to me and asked me for my autograph, which was amazing, because we were in New York. And a lot of younger singers look up to us, and there are people who tell me that they were pulling for me to win. ‘American Idol’ was a great experience.”
And the experience continues. The show has provided Scarnato opportunities to perform and appear on talk shows, including “Live with Regis and Kelly,” “Access Hollywood,” “Mike and Juliet,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Extra” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Now, she’s working on a new EP to be released this summer on iTunes.
“It’ll be mostly originals with a few covers,” she says. “One of the covers will be Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying.’ I love that song.”
Scarnato and her fellow “American Idol” alumni will arrive in Baton Rouge on the day of the concert.
“We’ll have one rehearsal with them, and then we’ll have the concert that night,” Associate Conductor David Torns says. “If it rains on that day, our rain date is always the next day. It rained last year, and we decided to proceed with the concert, because rain was forecast on Sunday, as well. But we were able to get in three quarters of the concert. Hopefully, we’ll have clear skies this year.”
Tables will be available at $100 a seat. Otherwise, patrons are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets on which to sit while listening to Scarnato, Jones and Giraud belt out “Proud Mary,” “Georgia On My Mind” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Audience members also are welcome to bring food and beverages, but no alcohol. Jambalaya and other food and drink also will be for sale on the grounds.
“This is always a fun concert for us,” Torns says.
Scarnato knows from experience that she’ll have fun.
“Symphonies have so much energy, and I love that,” she says. “I look forward to that energy in this program and especially being in Lousiana.”