By John Benson
Candice Glover may be the most recent “American Idol” winner, but it’s runner-up Kree Harrison who feels like a champion.
“I didn’t expect to go as far as I did,” said Harrison, calling from Connecticut. “Obviously, making it to the finale was way more than I could have ever imagined. So I loved how it ended. And also, I feel like in a way, we all won. It’s not necessarily the title of ‘American Idol’ but I feel like a lot of us won with the exposure that created a following. That’s what we went there to do, so I am happy.”
Both personally and professionally, happiness isn’t something Harrison has experienced much of during the last 15 years. After signing her first record deal at the age of 10, Harrison’s family moved to Nashville. A short time later, her father was killed in a plane crash. Then, when Harrison was 16, she was working on an album when her mother died.
Having to overcome so many struggles in life, coupled with plenty of Music City deals that for various reasons never launched her musical career, Harrison and her story intrigued the “American Idol” audience. She instantly became a role model; she’s the underdog who doesn’t give up.
“I feel like more than anything, it’s a relatable factor,” Harrison said. “There have been so many people who have come up to me — young and old — and said, ‘Thank you for telling your stories to us. Thank you for giving us some inspiration.’ You have to move forward whenever tragedy or something happens in your life that makes you want to crawl up in a ball. It makes me happy that people kind of take their hats off that I did it.”
Audiences are taking their hats off and applauding Harrison’s time in the spotlight on the “American Idol Live!” tour, which comes to the city on Sunday at the Covelli Centre. Harrison’s set includes show favorite “Up to the Mountain,” (Patty Griffin), “Hold On” (Alabama Shakes) and her single “All Cried Out.”
Joining her on stage are the top 10 finalists, including Candice Glover (winner), Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb, Janelle Arthur, Lazaro Arbos, Burnell Taylor, Devin Velez, Paul Jolley and Curtis Finch Jr., as well as sing-off winner, Aubrey Cleland.
As for her future plans, Harrison said she’s multitasking on tour, writing new songs and working on co-writes for her upcoming album, which she hopes to record this fall in Nashville. However, where she fits under the Music City umbrella — a country pop artist or more of an alt-country singer — has yet to be determined.
“I’m a country artist, and the country format has so many angles these days,” Harrison said. “I have so many influences, and I hope that people will be able to hear that in my records. I am going to be on country radio. At least that’s my plan. I just want to make a record I’m proud of. I don’t want to put myself in a box.”