July 6, 2011 / 9:40 PM / 6 years ago

"American Idol" reject Pia Toscano signs record deal

<p>Performer Pia Toscano poses at the party for the finalists of the television show "American Idol" in Los Angeles, in this file photo taken March 3, 2011.Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" contestant Pia Toscano, whose early exit from the TV show shocked viewers, has signed a record deal with Interscope Records, the company said on Wednesday.

The 22 year-old Toscano, with her dark hair and powerful singing voice, was considered one of the front-runners for the top prize on "Idol" this year. But she was voted off by viewers to finish in 9th place.

Toscano will release her debut single "This Time" -- described as an acoustic guitar and beat-driven track -- on July 12, said Interscope Records. She will release her first album later this year.

Toscano described the record deal as "a dream come true".

This year's "Idol" winner was deep-voiced country singer Scotty McCreery, a former grocery store clerk.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant

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