Kree Harrison spoke to the media on Friday morning after she finished as the runnerup on Season 12 of American Idol. Here is what she had to say:

Tell us about your signing with Lyric Street and then parting ways with the label:

KH: “I didn’t know then exactly what I wanted to do, because I was 10 years old. I knew exactly what I didn’t want to do , which was more of the bubblegum pop country that was kind of 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. There was a lot of things that happened–a lot of tragedy in my family. I think it was good to sit back and do some soul searching. Not just emotionally but as an artist. I felt like this through this whole Idol
journey, it’s 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.”

How have you developed such an upbeat outlook on life although you have
experienced tragedy in your life, losing both parents?

KH: “I think at the end of the day, it’s a choice. You can choose to live your lives happy and whatever happens to you, you take 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, make people feel the same way.”

What did you feel about Keith Urban’s sometimes harsh critique of your performances?

“The four judges–I respect so much and always have. And especially Keith because we’re both country singers. If at any point he gave me 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. I always took it to
heart . I’ve always had a problem in the beginning of my career 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.”

Talk about your friendship with Kellie Pickler and the rumors that you would get
matching tattoos if you both won your respective competitions.

KH: “OK. This is a joke that’s just gone wrong! 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. And I’m so freaking proud of her. I hope she wins Dancing With
the Stars. I’m rooting for her. I know the Idol family is too. Me and
Angie and Janell voted for her. We’re so proud of each other, and I’ve gotten
to see her 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 get home?

KH: “I’m not going to b mad about laying in my bed. I definitely am going to get as much rest as I possibly can. We’ve been working our butts off. More than anything I (want to) sink it all in, everything that’s happened. I can’t wait to go back to
Nashville and make music.”

When will your album come out?

KH: “My single is released, which I can’t even believe I can say that out loud. It’s on iTunes. I hope y’all are going to go purchase it. I don’t know! The tour is tomorrow, and I feel like–I have the world in my hands right now to make a good record and I’m so happy about it. As soon as I can, I’m going to start writing and collaborating with other singer/songwriters. We’ll see what happens. I can’t wait to share it.”

Why do you think that your new single is the right choice for you?

KH: “I was so happy this song was pitched to me. Steve McEwan, Katrina Elam and Gordie Sampson wrote this song. I feel like it’s 100% 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 want. I feel like, lyrically, I couldn’t have [written] this song
better myself. I hope that people love it, I really do and look forward to
the rest of the record.”

Are you going to play it on the Grand Old Opry?

KH: “Today’s my birthday, and it’s the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten in my life. One of my life long goals is to play the Grand Ole Opry and to 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. Keith Urban told me! And I cried. It was a very special–it was a good moment. I’m happy that we shared it .”

Who was your favorite judge and which one do you respect the most?

KH: “They brought so many different things and opinions and advice to me. I can’t imagine just picking one. Last night, being able to play with Randy and Keith–obviously Travis–but those two judges. I’m so thankful. I couldn’t possibly pick one. I do love
Keith and I hope that we get to collaborate more in the future.”

Following your finale performance did you think you would win?

KH: “ 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. I’ve already reached the limit of creating a following. And that’s what each of us came here to do. Standing there last night with Candy, I was so freaking 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 won. I’m runner-up. But I’m so blessed that I could be part of this Idol journey.
It’s made me even more of an artist. I’m happy. I’m over the moon about it.”

While you were standing there waiting for Ryan to reveal the winner, what was going through your mind?

KH: “What was going through my head was what I was saying out
loud. We were both telling each other how proud we were. 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’m so freaking proud of her. She’s incredible. We’re both
rooting for each other–both of our singles.”

Did you feel like you had a shot to win over Candice?

KH: “I never know what’s going to happen. It’s always been in America’s hands. The truth is, the whole Top 10–we’re all so completely different. And especially me and Candice. It’s apples and oranges as far as music goes. I had no idea what was going to happen. Either way, the result–was a win win for both of us.”

Were you shocked that you advanced to the finale and not Angie?

KH: “I was! If you can’t tell, I’m not a very good actress. What you see is what you get. I definitely was shocked. I feel like all of us deserve it, but I think it was just the moment of reality. I tried to live in the moment each step of this whole process. Whenever he [Ryan] called our name, I just couldn’t believe I would be able to perform another week. I was just so happy. The support–you feel it at that moment–wow all of you people voted for me to sing another week. That was such an amazing…yeah I was

How did you feel after the show last night?

KH: “They all sang Happy Birthday, which was really awesome. We
had the freaking show of our lives! Are you kidding? It was so much fun. 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, It’s been every
waking moment with each other. It was very special. It was an amazing night.”
What are you looking forward to about working on your record in Nashville?

KH: “The whole process is exciting in itself, because it is such a process. You write, you listen to the songs, you go in the studio and you create what is yours. It’s like
birth–it’s like creating your baby to grow up and share with the world. It’s
what we live for. I can’t wait for all of it.”

Why did you choose to go first after the coin toss?

KH: “You know what? At that moment, I was just ‘I don’t care if
I go first or second’ It’s just the two of us. I get to sing at the finale,
and I’m freaking 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.”

What will you sing on the Sumer Tour?

KH: “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. 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. I’ve always loved it. My mom loved that song. I
would love to bring that energy every night.”

What is your advice for those auditioning for Season 13?

KH: “Pace yourself. But more than anything, I feel like, the beauty of coming into such an instant situation in 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.”

What did you do after the show last night?

KH: “The adrenaline that me and Candy were feeling last night
was over the moon, so it was hard to just go and sit down. We were so
exhausted! We went out to the wrap party and started to hug everybody that
we’ve made family with, basically. They all sang Happy Birthday and obviously
we celebrated just the Top 10 and each other, and the fact that we’re going
to go on tour. It was a really fun night. And then I went to sleep, because I
was exhausted.”

What did you learn from the other contestants?

KH: “So many things. I’m inspired every day by how much
we’ve all grown, to be honest. We all bring something totally different
to the table. 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 looking forward to hearing on the Summer Tour?

KH: “Everyone! I couldn’t possibly choose one. I am excited to
collaborate, for sure. Hopefully me and Candy get to do another duet.
Obviously Angie–just all the girls, really. Angie’s like my little sister. We’ve
roomed together since Vegas. I’m so freaking proud of all of them. Janelle’s
performance last night–I couldn’t believe it. She’s a star. She killed it,
she really did. I was so proud of everyone.”

What surprised you most about this season?

KH: “Just how much work goes into the show. Not just for us, but
for everybody. There’s so much hard work and people behind the scenes. I had
no idea that that really happened that way. I’m happy to be a part of that
experience – to make such good friends throughout this process.”

What will you miss most?

KH: “The Idol family. Really. I know I say this a thousand
times, but. The cast and crew–I adore. We spent every day together for
awhile. I’m really going to miss them. I’m going to try and stay in touch
with as many of them as I can.”

Do you have any rituals you do before the show?

KH: “Right before we’d all walk out-especially us girls–and we’d
just dance around and be silly and take in the moment. You know how it is!
It’s fast paced, it’s cool to share that experience with such an amazing

Who would you like to collaborate with?

KH: “Honestly, there’s so many people, for so many different reasons, I couldn’t possibly name one. I know that June 4, I’m playing the Opry, and I can’t even really even fathom that–it’s so crazy. I know Keith Urban will be there so maybe
something will happen. I would love to collaborate with him. We’ll see.”

Did you get several choices of songs?

KH: “There’s a team of people constantly working throughout this
whole process. I honestly really do trust them. 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. Whenever they did play it for me, I knew
immediately that that was the one. Because, lyrically, I mean every word. I
believe that it’s such a good country song. People seem to really like it ,
and ho they buy the rest of the record.”

Kree’s closing remarks:

“I want to thank y’all so much. Wherever ya’ll are, you should
come out and see the tour. I know it starts June 29. I’d love to meet all of