By Kerri Sheehan

After a long season of strained vocal cords and sad goodbyes, we finally have a new American Idol, Candice Glover. But she’s not the only one headed for stardom: runner-up Kree Harrison has a bright future ahead of her as well. Viewers first became acquainted with the songstress when she performed with three other country crooners during Hollywood week. During the Idol segment, “Kree Harrison Comes Home,” fans learned that the 22-year-old singer lost both parents, her mother to an accident at age 19 and her father to a plane crash at age 12. Many found it refreshing to see the stunning brunette return to her roots in Texas.

It makes sense, then, that judge Keith Urban is a fan of Harrison. His critiques on her performances weren’t always positive; even so, she took the criticism with stride. “I respect the four judges so much, especially Keith because we’re both country singers. Whenever he gave me feedback, I took it as constructive criticism. At the end of the day, you can’t really grow if you’re not listening and learning from your peers.”

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She believes that being on Idol helped her in other ways as well. “I always had a problem at the beginning of my career with letting the wall down and being able to connect emotionally,” she explains. “It’s a hard thing to do, but I feel like through this process, it’s really happened for me. I feel so good about it.”

Although she didn’t win the competition, Harrison’s excited for what comes next. “I think that we were all in it to win it, but at the end of the day, I still was able to create a following.” She’s already released her first single too: “All Cried Out” is currently on iTunes. Plus, she’ll be making her debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage on Tuesday, June 4th. As for the very near future, she says she is looking forward to some well-earned rest. “We’ve been working our butts off!”

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She’s not really sure where she’s going from here, but she’s not worried. As she shares, “I feel like I have the world in my hands right now. As soon as I can, I’m going to start writing and collaborating with other singer-songwriters, and we’ll see what happens.  I will definitely let y’all know because I can’t wait to share it.”

As for her feelings about winner Glover, Harrison says that she could not be prouder of the soul singer. “Go get both of our singles!”

Be sure to catch Harrison on the American Idol tour this summer! You can also follow her on Twitter.