You may know Kree Harrison as the runner-up from Season 12 of American Idol, but she is ready for you to know her for being more than just a reality TV show contestant. She just released a new single, the title track to her new album “This Old Thing.” I got a chance to talk to Harrison about her American Idol experience and what made her try out for the show in the first place.
“At that time, I was working at this place called Santa’s Pub and didn’t have a pot to piss in, and I just kind of felt a little lost. I was out of my publishing deal and my sister told me they were doing auditions and she said, ‘you should just do it, what do you have to lose?’ And then, I don’t know, I kind of went for it and through the process I realized that this show is way much more about giving you the platform and allowing you to have a following and doing it in an organic way.”
Harrison calls American Idol “boot camp” for an artist. She credits the crazy, hurry up and wait schedules, along with the live TV experience with giving her a work ethic she wouldn’t have if she had not gone through that process. When asked about the best advice anyone gave her, she talked about Smokey Robinson being a mentor on the show.
“I’ve sang his songs from the time I was six and on. So, I was just sitting there and trying to take every moment in and actually trying to form sentences, which is actually very hard to do when you are looking into his green eyes. He was complimenting me, being very sweet, when he said ‘just always remember, no matter how high your head gets in the clouds, just keep your feet on the ground.’ It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever been told.”
American Idol finished its final season a couple weeks ago with a star-studded finale show. Here’s what she had to say about being on the Idol stage for the last time, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones.
“It felt like a high school reunion. You get close to so many people because you spend a year of your life with them. It was really fun meeting past contestants that I never met and bonding with them. It’s just like befriending people that have gone through that process that people in your regular life would never understand. You have this crazy bond from being a part of this Idol family.”
The next chapter in Harrison’s career involves her new album and single titled “This Old Thing.” The album was recorded live to tape at Echo Mountain Studios, an old church turned music studio, in Asheville, North Carolina. I wanted to know why she chose to record it live.
“I just have always wanted to. I felt like being in a studio, singing to a track, I would be thinking about it rather than feeling it. The whole idea of the record, too, was to pay respect to my influences. So I was like, why wouldn’t I just go all the way and do it like they used to, in a big room to tape. It just made sense in my head. I feel like whenever somebody in the room is showing off and I start emoting more and singing, just going for it, and feeding off each other like you would be to an audience.”
Harrison co-wrote nine of the 13 songs on her album. I asked her if she thought it was important for a singer to write their own songs.
“I feel like, for me, I’ve had a lot to say for a long time, which is why I like writing, but I think everybody is different. I believe that the songs that I didn’t write, I’ve related to them in a way that if I sing them I feel like people will believe me just because I mean it. So no, I don’t think you necessarily have to write your own stuff, but I was really proud to have so many on this record.”
Harrison lost her parents when she was young to tragic events but still credits them with teaching her about music and giving her a wide range of influences from Otis Redding to George Jones. Included on the album is “You Would’ve Wanted it that Way,” a song she wrote about her mom with Natalie Hemby and Trent Dabbs. She explained that it’s probably the most personal song she’s written yet. Even though she has had many ups and downs in the last 15 years she says she wouldn’t change anything about her journey.
Now that the single is out for everyone to hear, she is really looking forward to playing the record live.
“I wanted to be able to play it every night and love it, so I can’t wait to do that.”
This has been a life-long dream of hers, but it’s been worth the wait.
Kree Harrison’s single “This Old Thing” is available on all digital outlets including iTunes.