Kree Harrison Talks the Future, Friendship With Kacey Musgraves, Tattoos With Kellie Pickler + More
Kree Harrison was the runner-up for Season 12 of ‘American Idol,’ but the buck doesn’t stop there. She’s moving full-steam ahead and staring down a bright career in the country genre. Taste of Country spoke to Harrison just days after the finale, and she hadn’t yet stopped to take a breather. She was in full-on promotion mode for her new single ‘All Cried Out’ and laying the groundwork for what’s shaping up to be a busy year. One thing’s certain: She’s not bummed about placing second.
There’s nowhere to go but up for Kree Harrison, who revealed her excitement about her Opry debut, her friendship with fellow ladies in the genre and more during our chat.
ToC: Losing ‘American Idol’ isn’t a death knell for an aspiring artist. In fact, a lot of runners-up went on to do huge things. How are you feeling about your status as Season 12’s runner-up?
Kree Harrison: I agree that it was a win-win situation for either way. Me and [eventual winner] Candice [Glover] were in the moment at the finale. We looked at each other and said, ‘I am proud of you, whatever happens.’ The whole reason that I tried out for ‘Idol’ is the longevity. It wasn’t about the title or winning. I want to make music for the rest of my life and you have to create a following to do that. I think I did good for runner-up.
Yes, you did! What’s on your immediate agenda, coinciding with this summer’s ‘Idols’ tour, and after?
Oh my gosh, so much! I am going to start my record, definitely. I can’t wait to write and to listen. I will do a lot of multi-tasking in the next few months. I am excited. This is all fast-paced and it’s crazy.
So you will listen to songs that songwriters send in hopes that you’ll record them?
Of course I will. That’s never a bad idea. I am going to be writing, too. I am going to be doing a lot of promoting when it comes my single, ‘All Cried Out.’
Speaking of your single, how did you pick it out when it was presented to you?
I did not write it, but I wish I would have, though. There were songs pitched to me, but at the end of the day, that was an easy one for me, since I feel so deeply in love with this song. It’s very relevant to me as an artist today. It’s a timeless song. A lot of people can relate. It was easy as a choice.
Will you be recording while on tour?
Definitely. There’s not a set schedule right this second. I haven’t had time to do anything but press since the finale. I have been pretty much promoting my single for the last week. The finale seems like yesterday, though.
Is there a breather in your future?
I would much rather be doing this and be exhausted from it than doing anything else. I love what I do, so working hard at what I love is good thing.
Do you consider yourself “country”?
I don’t want put myself in a box. But that being said, I am definitely a country artist. I always will be. I would love to be worldly, too! I don’t want to be one thing, but at the end of the day, it’s more than country. It’s soulful, as well, which is what you can say about every genre.
Will you and Kellie Pickler still get tattoos? She won ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and while you came in second, it’s close enough to winning…
It was a joke that was printed. We think it’s funny. I am so freakin’ proud of her. I talked to her just last night [after the ‘DWTS’ finale] and was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ She deserves it. Did you watch the last performance? Girl, you have to watch it! It was unbelievable. It made me cry. I called it from day one! I want to put that out there.
A show like ‘Idol is often the result of creative editing. Was there anything we didn’t see about Kree Harrison because of that, or are you happy with the show’s portrayal of you?
At this point, I am sure all of you know my blood type! With me, I am a terrible actress. Before I did the show, I thought the same thing, that it was all edited to how they wanted it to be. But honestly, it was all real. It is edited, yes, but a live show is a live show. They do [the interview] packages, of course, every week, but all that stuff is real and in real time.
You seemed to grow so close with Candice, as well as other late-in-the-season competitors Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb. You also looked genuinely happy to see Candice win. That’s an interesting dynamic since you were women in the heat of competition. Didn’t you think, ‘Gosh, I wanna win!?’
Well, yeah! Of course, we all were ‘in it to win it,’ as Randy Jackson would say. But that being said, this process, being competitive girls in a situation, is usually not a good thing. But we all were so not that way. We were not catty and competitive with each other. We were competitive, but with ourselves. We were all different. Me and Janelle [Arthur] were both country, but we’re different kinds of country and felt there was room for both of us. When we were compared, we were like, ‘You can have Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline in the same room.’ But there was no time for catty girls. It’s funny, though. Everyone asks if we every fought! We should do a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit.
Did Keith Urban give you any genre-specific advice?
Each week, anything the judges said, I took to heart, since I respect all of them, but of course, I want to be right up there with Keith in the country world, so any advice he gave, I think about all the time, since I respect him a bunch.
Who are the country artists you are most influenced by or look up to the most?
There are so many! I can’t even name them all, but I grew up half of my life in Nashville, for 13 years, so I am schooled in the way I’ve been surrounded by amazing musicians, singers and songwriters, so I am inspired by them every day. Kacey Musgraves and I are the best of friends. We push each other in the best ways. We had a reunion last night. She came to the show last night but we got to hang out and catch up. She inspires me.
And Kellie, too…
Of course! Yes.
What’s been your biggest surprise so far?
I can’t even believe that they’ve asked me to do the Opry. It will be really emotional. Ever since I was little, I wanted to perform at Grand Ole Opry. I cannot wait. It’s June 4.
Will you be nervous?
Girl, I am going to take in every moment. I don’t get nervous when I sing, and this is more about the honor.