PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Top Stories

March 14, 2013

Harrison named in 'Top 3'

BRIDGE CITY — Editor's note: Kree Harrison advanced to the next round of "American Idol" Thursday night and was named in the "Top 3" by host Ryan Seacrest. Watch again next Wednesday, March 20, to see Harrison perform again.

It was September 2005, and Tina Bernard was not pleased.

Although auditions had been held for Cardinal Singers — the elite members of Bernard’s Bridge City High School choir program — the previous school year, a coworker was insisting that she make an exception for a freshman who had just transferred into the district.

“The counselor called me and said, ‘Hey, you need to hear this girl sing,’” Bernard remembered. “I said, ‘I can hear her sing, but I can’t put her in Cardinal Singers.’

“He said, ‘You’re going to want to call the judges back.’”

Weary of arguing, Bernard begrudgingly agreed to hear the new student sing. Her faith was not strengthened when the girl requested a guitar for her audition.

“I just rolled my eyes,” Bernard said. “Everybody sings, and everybody plays guitar. It’s annoying to choir directors.”

Then, 14-year-old Kree Harrison started to sing.

“I was in tears by the third verse,” Bernard said. “She just has a God-given talent.”

Needless to say, Harrison passed the auditions. She was a member of Cardinal Singers for approximately two months before returning to Nashville, where she had moved from her native Woodville to pursue a music career. Currently Southeast Texas natives can keep up with Harrison on “American Idol,” where she was recently named a Top 10 finalist.

Harrison’s classmates bore no grudge against her for bypassing the initial auditions.

“Everybody really liked her, and they knew the talent whenever they heard her,” said Brittany Bellair, a 2007 BCHS graduate who was in varsity choir with Harrison. “She dominated in the choir class. I remember seeing that she was on Rosie O’Donnell, but I don’t remember that being a big deal to us at the time. Now, looking back, that’s huge.”

What Harrison lacked in ego, she made up for in talent, Bellair said — and it didn’t come as a shock to see her former classmate on the television screen.

“She’s very down to earth, very chill — she doesn’t make a big deal of herself,” said Bellair, who now lives in Dallas, where she works for Southwest Airlines. “It doesn’t surprise me that she’s on there, but I don’t think it’s really gone to Kree’s head.”

Although Harrison was more accustomed to singing on her own, Bernard said, it didn’t take much effort to integrate her into the chorus.

“There’s a big difference between solo singing and choir singing — a lot of correction has to happen,” Bernard said. “But she was very receptive and did what I asked her to do when she sang with a group, and then she did her own thing when she did her solos. Not many students can do that. I have students that come in who are just obnoxious — ‘Oh, here I am.’ She has never been like that. She’s very humble, very sweet.”

At age 10, Harrison was offered a contract with Disney’s Lyric Street records — which she turned down.

“They offered her a contract for Hannah Montana,” Bernard said. “But she did not want to take it, because she said those child stars are real popular and then they fade away. She didn’t feel like she fit into that role, because her music is so serious.”

Now 22, Harrison has suffered enough heartache to derail anyone twice her age. In 2001, her father was killed in a plane crash, causing her to halt her budding career and return home to Texas. Four years later, her mother was killed in a car accident.

But Harrison hasn’t let these setbacks stop her, so neither her former teacher nor her former classmate think the show’s other contestants will pose a problem.

“The only thing that scares me is that she doesn’t have as big of a personality as some of the other girls,” Bellair said. “She knows deep down inside that she has this amazing talent, so she doesn’t have to wear these skimpy little clothes to make people love her.”

Despite this, Bernard is confident in her former pupil.

“I won’t be surprised one bit if she wins it,” she said. “A lot of those people that you hear on those things, they’re not real experienced. They’ve karaoked — it’s not that difficult to pick up karaoke. But that’s not what she does. She’s the whole package — she writes, she plays guitar, she plays piano.”

 In her 21 years as a music educator — the last 14 of which have been at BCHS — Harrison is the most dedicated student she has seen, Bernard said.

“I’ve had lots of students that I thought could have done what she’s doing, and none of them have actually followed through, because it’s not taken very seriously,” Bernard said. “But I think Kree knew from a very, very young age that she had a God-given talent, and she never attempted to do anything else. She’s put all of her heart and soul into it since she was a girl, and she just kept pushing forward until she was finally noticed. You can see when she sings, she’s feeling it. She’s not just up there singing words.”

Bernard is pulling for her former student, if only to see more estrogen on the show. A woman hasn’t claimed the “Idol” crown since Jordin Sparks in 2007.

“It’s time for a girl to win, and Kree is leaps and bounds above everybody else — and that’s in my professional opinion as well,” Bernard said.

Tune in to FOX at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, to watch Kree Harrison perform in the top 10 finals of “American Idol.” Tune in again Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. for the results episode to see if Kree advances to the next round.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • FireHFONLINE.jpg Hamshire-Fannett Elem badly burned

    With smoke still hanging in the air and water blasting hot spots in the smoldering ruins of Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School, the administration and parents of hundreds students are left wondering what’s next.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 86th Academy Awards -_Edge.jpg ’12 Years a Slave’ rises up at Academy Awards

    Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.
    Steve McQueen’s slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry’s virtual blindness to slavery, instead creating whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner “Gone With the Wind.” “12 Years a Slave” is the first best-picture winner directed by a black filmmaker.

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit Shirley Temple_Edge.jpg Shirley Temple, iconic child star, dies at 85

    Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, has died, according to publicist Cheryl Kagan. She was 85.

    February 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Winter.jpg Freezing rain, sleet Thursday into Friday

    Wicked winter weather is heading to Southeast Texas Thursday night into Friday.
    An arctic cold front will be passing through bringing along with it much colder and windier conditions, according to a National Weather Service press release.

    January 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oscar Nominations_Cowl.jpg ‘Hustle,’ ’Gravity’ lead Oscar nominations

    The Academy Awards appear to be the three-horse race many expected it would be, with “Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” all receiving a heap of nominations. All were among the nine films nominated for best picture. The other nominees are “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Philomena.”
     

    January 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wendy Davis.jpg Wendy Davis tours Port of Beaumont

    State Sen. Wendy Davis burst onto the national political stage in June, when she spent 11 hours filibustering in an attempt to block Senate Bill 5, a contentious piece of legislation that banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as an ambulatory surgical center. Although the bill passed the next month during a special session called by Gov. Rick Perry, Davis breathed new life into a Texas Democratic Party that last saw an official elected to statewide office in 1994.

    November 20, 2013 1 Photo

  • Jack-knife trailer.jpg Jack-knifed trailer snarls traffic, closes Rainbow Bridge

    October 31, 2013 1 Photo

  • fall.jpg UPDATED — Where to go: Fall Fests, Trunk R Treats and Pumpkin Patches

    If you're looking for a place to bring the kids trick or treating, or maybe looking for a great patch to grab a pumpkin here is a list of events planned around the area.

    October 28, 2013 1 Photo

  • IMG_9345.jpg Overturned 18-wheeler shuts down portion of Hwy 73

    The portion of Highway 73 traveling eastbound at U.S. Highway 69 will be blocked for two to three hours due to an overturned 18-wheeler. Motorists should take an alternate route to avoid the area.
    The Port Arthur Police Department is on scene and investigating the accident. No further details are known at this time.

    September 20, 2013 1 Photo

  • AwaitingArrival.jpg Streets lined to pay respects to Maddox

    Motorcyclists, Coast Guard and members of the Hamshire-Fannett Fire Department along with the public are gathered at Jack Brooks Regional Airport to pay tribute to fallen soldier Anthony Maddox.

    August 2, 2013 2 Photos

Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Facebook
Sports Tweets
Photos