casey abrams_haley reinhart

Peak Performance

American Idol grads Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart return to anchor Idyllwild’s 23rd annual Jazz in the Pines.

Julie Pendray Arts & Entertainment

casey abrams_haley reinhart
Haley Reinhart (left) and Casey Abrams will again anchor Jazz in the Pines, Aug. 21, in Idyllwild.

Former American Idol finalists Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart will bring their sweet, sizzling chemistry to Jazz in the Pines in Idyllwild again this month. The two singer-songwriters dazzled the crowd last year and will perform the grand finale again Aug. 21 at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

“We’ll be stripping down our performance … spilling our hearts out on the stage,” says Reinhart from Los Angeles.

Adds Abrams, who just returned from a gig in Italy, “Last time, we had the whole Gingerbread Band. This time, we’ll have some guests but it’ll be just me and Haley. It’ll be jazz, with maybe some jazzy pop tunes.”

More than two dozen solo acts, ensembles, and bands will perform jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and big band music on three stages, Aug. 20-21 (Aug. 19 is for patrons only). Acts will include Lisa Haley and the Zydekats, Greg Jones Band, Seahawk MoJO, Cathedral City’s Diane Schuur, Yve Evans Trio, Definiens, and Graham Dechter Quartet.

Last year at Jazz in the Pines, Casey Abrams (left) and Haley Reinhart came with a band. They plan to scale back this year.

Abrams is among Idyllwild Arts Academy alumni who return to perform each year at this fundraiser for the preprofessional school. The academy is one of the few U.S. residential high schools for gifted students from all art genres, including dance, writing, visual arts, film, theater, and fashion design.

Individually, Abrams and Reinhart have been Down Under, over to the UK and Europe, and across the United States since their last performance in Idyllwild, each promoting their latest recordings — Reinhart’s album Better and Abrams’ EP Tales from the Gingerbread House. They have appeared in Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, a revolving ensemble that performs vintage-themed covers of pop and jazz tunes, and joined each other onstage in other performances across the Atlantic.

“We got to play in Liverpool, where the Beatles were born and raised. It was really cool to share a stage together in another land,” Abrams says.

The two say they’re not dating, in spite of messages from their social media followers that suggest they’re a cute couple. Some Instagram messengers want to see them married.

Haley Reinhart(left) and Casey Abrams relax among the pine trees of Idyllwild before taking stage at Jazz in the Pines last year.

“I can’t wait to get back on stage with him,” Reinhart says. “We’re incredibly close. He’s such a dear friend. I feel like we’re … Carole King and James Taylor. It’s an effortless duo. We want to continue to write together and hopefully put out our own EP or a record.”

Abrams describes his relationship with Reinhart as “best friends” and says he’s “really excited” to be coming back to Idyllwild to perform with her. They might debut a song they’ve co-written about bringing the world together. Reinhart says her latest album includes that message.

“I didn’t really premeditate it, but there’s a song called Listen,” she says. “It’s about unification and coming together as people, as a community, helping to save our beautiful planet and make it that much greater and stronger. I think I have a calling to share whatever I can as a vocalist, performer and artist. Things are vastly changing but love should remain the same.”

Abrams concurs. “It’s all about spreading good energy, when you’re talking about love in a song, just good vibration, when you’re onstage talking about good things, you’re sharing the love with the world. Don’t be afraid to show how happy you are, then other people will be happy.”


On a nonmusical front, Abrams is jazzed that he’ll soon debut in a comedy called Offer & Compromise, planned for select theaters and the festival circuit. He plays alongside Lee Meriwether, Yeardley Smith, and Ed Marinaro. Abrams’ character works at a credit card agency, hitting people up for money, as he tries to decide what to do with his life.

“The fact that I got to act with so many incredible actors was really good,” he says. “Acting and playing music onstage are really the same thing … telling stories.”

Abrams has scheduled a live concert at Hollywood’s Hotel Café Aug. 8, which he will record and sell as a live album.

For Reinhart’s next record, she’d like to write on her own again and maybe use a live band. “I want to make this one even more raw and in a theme,” she says. “I’m excited.”

Jazz in the Pines, Aug. 20-21, Idyllwild Arts Foundation, 52500 Temecula Road, 951-468-7210;

Visit for more photos from Monika Lightstone.