Country singer Kree Harrison came in second place on Season 12 of “American Idol.” And even though she came in second place to winner Candice Glover, being in second place on “American Idol” is hardly losing, since all of the contestants who came in second place get a major record deal. It’s not a guarantee of having a hit career, but it’s a great opportunity that most aspiring singers never get.
Harrison’s first single, “All Cried Out,” was released immediately after the show’s Season 12 finale. It’s a bittersweet accomplishment, since Harrison’s parents did not live to see it. Her father died in a plane crash 2001, and her mother died in a car accident in 2009. Here is what Harrison said in a telephone conference call with journalists on the day after “American Idol’s” Season 12 finale.
What are you most looking forward to on tour?
Honestly being able to go out there and perform for all the fans and try to hug as many of them as I can. I’m so appreciative of my fans.
There are always pros and cons to everything. For you and your mindset going forward, what are the pros of actually coming in second on “American Idol”?
It’s been the most amazing journey and honestly I’m so honored that the fans have gotten me this far and now that I have a following I can make a record.
Are you going to be doing more of traditional country or pop country?
I don’t want to put myself in a box right now. I’ve only put out a single, so for me I would love to do country radio and whatever that brings to people, whether it’s pop or traditional. I feel like personally I’m more of a traditional artist; but I don’t want to be just be one particular thing. It’s definitely country and always will be.
What’s it like getting such public support from Kacey Musgraves?
First of all, she’s one of my best friends. We hit if off in Nashville and kept in touch. It’s weird, we’re sisters, and I’m so proud of her and she’s so proud of me, and I can’t believe it’s all happening to both of us right now. Yes, I can’t wait to get back to Nashville and hug her. I mean, obviously, she’s come to the show and supported me, I love her to death. I’m so proud of her!
Kree, when you were much younger and you had a shot at a record deal, and you finally didn’t do it because you didn’t agree with the company on the direction they were going in. Tell us how much different you’ll be now when you do your record. In what ways will your taste or style be different in the record than it might have been if you had done it way back then?
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know then exactly what I wanted to do, because I was 10 years old, but I knew exactly what I didn’t want to do, which was more of the bubble-gum pop country that was still happening at the time. It wasn’t the right time. It wasn’t necessarily that I was butting heads with the label.
They were amazing to me and more than anything taught me to stay true to who I was. But yes, there was a lot of things that had happened. I had had tragedy in my family and I think that it was good to sit back and do some soul searching, and not just emotionally, but as an artist. I feel like through this whole “Idol” journey, it just taught me so much more that everything I’ve been through and all the experiences that I’ve had in the industry just makes you exactly who you are, and that comes out in your music, so pretty much all of the above.
You have had a lot of tragedy, and yet all the people on the show describe you as a very upbeat and friendly person, someone you pick up the other people’s spirits and so forth. What is it about your persona that allows you to continue to be upbeat throughout it all?
I think that end of the day, it’s a choice. You can choose to live your life happy and whatever happens to you, you take it with a grain of salt. For me this is the sweet after the bitter that I’ve had in my life. I like to share that and make people feel the same way.
Do you had any thoughts on maybe why or when Keith Urban would talk about you not being connected with the songs?
I feel like for the four judges. I respect so much and always have, and especially Keith, because we’re both country singers and if any point he would give me some critiques, I took it as constructive criticism, because at the end of the day you can’t really grow if you’re not listening and learning from your peers. Yes, I always took it to heart and I agree with him. I’ve always had a problem in the beginning of my career letting the wall down and being able to connect emotionally just because it is a harder thing to do to open up, but I feel like through this process it’s really happened and I feel so good about it. I’m happy that it’s happened that way.
Have you heard from Kellie Pickler?
I talk to her all the time, but I haven’t heard from her. I’m sure she understands that it’s a whirlwind, but I will definitely talk to her. I’m so fricking proud of her. I hope she wins “Dancing with the Star.” I’m rooting for her. I know the “Idol” family is, too.
Me and Angie and Janelle have voted for her on “Dancing with the Stars.” We’re so proud of each other and I’ve gotten to see her a bunch at the studios. She’s such an amazing woman and friend. I hope to collaborate soon.
What are you most looking forward to when you first get home?
I’m not going to be mad about lying in my bed. I’m definitely going to get as much rest as I possibly can because we’ve been working our butts off. More than anything, I just kind of taking it all in, everything that’s happened and I can’t wait to go back to Nashville and make music.
How soon should we be expecting an album from you?
My single is released, which I can’t even believe that I can say that out loud. It’s on iTunes, and I hope that you are all going to go purchase it. I don’t know. The tour is next and I feel like the world is in my hands right now to make a good record and I’m so happy about it. As soon as I can, I’m just going to start writing and collaborating with other singer songwriters and we’ll see what happens, but I definitely will let you all know, because I can’t wait to share it. I can’t wait to make a record.
Can you talk about your new single and why this is the right choice for you right now?
I’m so happy that this song was pitched to me. Steve McEwan, Katrina Elam and Gordie Sampson wrote the song. I feel like it’s 100 percent me and I couldn’t be more thankful to call it my own. It’s definitely got the traditional country roots and the soul that I wanted. I feel like lyrically I couldn’t have wrote the song better myself. I hope that people love it. I really do and I look forward to the rest of the record as well.
And you’re going to perform it on the Grand Ole Opry. Is that right?
Today is my birthday and that’s the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten in my life. Yes. I’m positive that there’s footage of me when I was younger. This has been one of my lifelong goals is to play the Grand Ole Opry and just stand where all of my peers and all those country music legends have stood. It’s going to be hard not to kiss that circle. Yes, I’m excited, of course. Keith Urban told me, and I cried. Yes, it was a very special, it was a good moment. I’m happy that we shared it.
When did you find that out?
I found out the night of the [season finale]. I can’t wait. I hope you all come out to the Opry.
In terms of looking back on your whole “Idol” experience, is there one judge that was your favorite or that you respect the most?
They have brought so many different things and opinions and advice to me, I can’t imagine just picking one because I respect all of them for so many different reasons. Last night being able to play with Randy and Keith, obviously Travis, but those two judges that they’ve all rooted for me and I was so thankful for it. Yes, I couldn’t possibly pick one. I do love Keith, and I hope that we get to collaborate more in the future.
After the finale performances, did you think that you would win and how much did you want to win?
I think that we were all we were in it to win it, as Randy would say, but at the end of the day the title for me is not just the American Idol, because I feel like I’ve already reached a limit of creating a following and that’s is what each of us came here to do. Standing there last night with Candi, I was so fricking proud of her and she’s so proud of me, we’re living our dreams right now, whether or not I have that title. I feel like I have one. I’m runner-up and I’m so blessed that I could be a part of this journey, and I feel like it’s made me even more of an artist, so I’m happy, and so I’m over the moon about it.
When you were standing there with Candice Glover, waiting for Ryan Seacrest to give you the final announcement of who won, what was going through your head?
What was going through my head is what I was saying out loud. We were both telling each other how proud we were and I said if you make it, if you win, you better sing your butt off. She was laughing at me. Have you heard her? I was so fricking proud of her. She’s incredible and we’re both rooting for each other. Go get both of our singles.
Going into the results, did you feel like you had an equal shot to win against Candice, or based upon your set of performances and judges’ comments, did you think or have a gut feeling the title was going to go to Candice?
I never know what’s going to happen. It’s always been in America’s hands, but the truth is the whole top ten, we’re all so completely different and especially me and Candice. It’s apples and oranges as far as music goes and two totally different artists, so I had no idea what was going to happen, but either way the result I feel like it was win/win situation for both of us.
Were you shocked when Ryan Seacrest announced that you got voted into the finale and Angie Miller was going home?
What was going through your mind in that moment?
Yes, if you can’t tell, I’m not a very good actress, so what you see is what you get. I definitely was shocked and not because I feel like all of us deserve it, but I think it was just a moment of reality. I try to live in the moment each step of this whole process.
Whenever he called my name, I could not believe that I was going to be able to perform another week. I was just so happy and the support, you feel at that very moment like, “Wow, all of you people voted for me to sing another week.” And that was just such an amazing feeling, so yes, I was shocked.
What was it like to be reunited with the this year’s Top 10 “American Idol” finalists, and what did you all do to celebrate?
They all sang me “Happy Birthday,” was really awesome, but we had a fricking show of our lives, are you kidding? It was so much fun and I tweeted earlier, the best part about it was celebrating the finale with the “Idol” family; not just the contestants, but the whole crew. You become so close to these people that you work with every single day. We spend every waking moment with each other, so it was very special. It was an amazing night.
When creating your album and going back to Nashville, what are some of the things you look forward to most? It is being in the studio? Is it touring? Do you have a preference one over the other? What are you most excited about?
The whole process is exciting in itself because it is such a process. You rewrite, you listen to songs. You go in the studio and you create what is yours. It’s like birth. It’s like I’m creating your baby and to go out and share it with the world, all of the above. It’s what we live for, so I can’t wait for all of it to tell you the truth.
When did you choose to go first after the coin toss, if you could talk a little bit about when you chose that?
You know what, at that moment I was just like I don’t care if I go first or second. It’s just two of us. I get to sing at the finale and I’m fricking excited about it. I don’t know. They said what do you want and I asked her first and she said I want to go second, so I said fine. I don’t care. I was just so happy to be able to perform again.
Can you tell us a little bit about the tour? On Twitter you mentioned that you were hoping to sing “Up to the Mountain.” Of course, you’ll be singing your single, but is there anything else you can tell us about your set?
You know what? Honestly I don’t know, but I would hope that people would give me suggestions for what they want to hear, because I think that I could pretty much pick anything, not just the songs that I performed on the show, but I would love to sing “Up to the Mountain.” I’ve always been a huge fan of Patty Griffin. She wrote that song, and she’s an amazing singer. There’s a connection with that song, because I’ve always loved it. My mom loves that song, so I would love to bring that energy every night.
Ryan Seacrest said that auditions for Season 13 are already underway. Do you have any advice for contestants are going to be on the show next season?
Sure I do. Pace yourself, first of all, but more than anything I feel like the beauty of coming into such an amazing situation and competition is that you have to know who you are as an artist, because I feel like that’s what will make you stand out.
After all was said and done, what did you do after the season finale? Did you go out and celebrate? Did you go home and relax?
I did a little bit of both. The adrenaline that me and Candi were feeling last night was over the moon, so it was hard to just like go and sit down. We were physically exhausted, so we went out to the after party, the wrap party, and got to hug everybody that we’ve made family with basically. They all sang happy birthday and obviously we celebrated just the top ten and each other and the fact that we’re getting to go on tour. Yes, it was a really fun night and then I went to sleep because I was exhausted.
What did you learn from the other contestants?
Oh my God, so many things. I’m inspired every day by how much that we’ve all grown, to be honest. We all bring something so totally different to the table, and the fact that we get to go on tour together and get to do that every single night is such an amazing thing, but they’ve taught me so many things. I’ve learned a ton.
Who are you most looking forward to hearing on the tour other than your set?
Everyone. We’re all so different I couldn’t possibly choose one, but I am excited to collaborate for sure. Hopefully me and Candi get to do another duet and obviously Angie and just all the girls, really. Angie is like my little sister at this point.
We’ve roomed together since Vegas and I’m so fricking proud of all of them. Janelle’s performance last night I couldn’t believe. Like she’s a star and she killed it. She really did. I was so proud of everyone.
Throughout the whole season,what surprised you most that you found out that you weren’t expecting?
Just how much work goes into the show. Not just for us, but for everybody, there’s so much hard working people behind the scenes. And I had no idea that that really happened that way. I’m happy to be a part of that experience and to make such good friends throughout this process.
What will you miss most?
The “Idol” family, really. I know I say that as I’ve said a thousand times, but really the cast and crew I adore. I really do, and then we’ve spent every day together for a while and I’m really going to miss them. I’m going to try and stay in touch with as many of them as I can.
How do you feel like “American Idol” has changed you, not only as a person, but as an entertainer? What lessons have you learned about yourself being on the show?
I’ve learned to just keep being myself and staying true to who am I as an artist. I feel like more than anything that’s what people love and it’s relatable to just be who you are, especially as a performer. I’ve really put down that wall as much as possible.
What kind of fun stuff did you guys do to get pumped up and energized and ready for the show?
Pretty much that. Right before like literally we would all walk out, especially us girls, and we would just dance around and be silly and kind of take in the moment. You know how it is. It’s fast-paced. Yes, it was really cool to share that experience with such an amazing crew, cast.
Who is someone that you would like to work with in the future?
Oh man, honestly there’s so many people for so many different reasons I couldn’t possibly name one. I know that on June 4, I’m playing the Opry now. And I can’t even really fathom that and say it out loud. It’s so crazy. But I know Keith Urban will be there, so maybe something will happen. I would love to collaborate with him; we’ll see.
What do you think about the panel for the judges next year? Who would you like to see for the judges?
Oh man, I don’t know. Whoever will be great. I haven’t really thought about it.
Kree, one of the key things about when you let Candice sing last is Candice had such as big knock-out song for her last song. When you let her sing last, were you aware of that? Had you heard her sing it? Did you know how powerful her last song was going to be?
Every song that Candice will ever sing is powerful. Of course I did. I’m so fricking proud of her and I thought it was the best idea ever to start that a cappella. It brought something different to that, her second rendition of that song. Yes, we’re so fricking proud of each other and go buy both of our singles.
You said that the song for your first single was pitched to you. Did you get several choices of songs? How did that go?
There’s a team of people constantly working throughout this whole experience, throughout this whole process, and I honestly really do trust them. Yes, they’ve worked their butts off trying to find songs for all of the Top 10. I’m lucky enough to be able to have found the perfect single.
Yes, I definitely trusted them and whenever they did play it for me, I knew immediately that that was the one, because lyrically I mean every word and I just believe that it’s such a good country song. I think people seem to really like it, and hopefully buy the rest of the record.
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