PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 26, 2013

Southeast Texans rally for 'American Idol's' Yellow Rose

Erinn Callahn
The Port Arthur News

WOODVILLE — Last week, Kree Harrison advanced to the top 8 of “American Idol” with her rousing rendition of the Beatles hit “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Tonight, Harrison will continue her fight to become the next “Idol” — with a little help from her friends. Thanks to Nicole Guillory, a longtime friend of Harrison’s older sister, Laci, nearly 200 Southeast Texas residents will sport their “Team Kree” shirts.

“She’s just been like a little sister to me,” said Guillory, 32. “I was on the phone with a friend of mine, Jennifer, and we were just so excited for her. We wanted to get the vote out any way we can, so we were like, ‘We should get shirts made.’”

Guillory, who lives in Harrison’s native Woodville, brought her idea to local business owner Karen Hatton. Now, Hatton said, she can’t keep the shirts on the shelves in her store, Country Gals Ink and Threads, 316 S. Magnolia, Woodville.

“In three days, we sold over 100 shirts,” Hatton said. “Everybody’s been excited to get a Kree shirt, because they’re so happy for her that she’s made it this far. I know there’s been a lot of people who’ve watched her grow up singing— I remember seeing her grow up. The town’s very proud of her. We hope she continues on and has a good trip.”

Hatton estimates that nearly 200 shirts have been sold at her store. Paper Works Printing and Graphics, 211 S. Magnolia, is also selling “Team Kree” shirts.

There are two versions of the shirt available. The men’s shirts are gray, adorned with a guitar and the words, “Team Kree,” both in blue, and are on sale for $13. At $15, the women’s shirts — which are black — also say, “Team Kree,” but the writing is yellow. Guillory added a glittery yellow rose for Harrison’s parents, Clint and Kathy Harrison. Sadly, neither is here to witness her success — Clint was killed in a 2001 plane crash, and Kathy in a 2009 automobile accident — but the yellow rose stands in commemoration to Harrison’s biggest cheerleaders.

“I sent Kree a picture of the first shirts we made, and she was like, ‘What about a yellow rose on there?’ Guillory said. “Her mom loved yellow roses.”

The circulation of “Team Kree” shirts has extended all the way to Groves, home of Harrison’s grandmother, Beverly Mire. Mire gave her T-shirt to an “American Idol” producer who visited her home, but she has placed an order for another one.

Mire said she especially appreciates the tribute to her daughter and son-in-law.

“Her mom loved yellow roses, so her dad would always give them to her,” she said. “Kathy really was involved in Kree’s music. She was real talented — she didn’t sing in public or anything, but she had a real good ear for music. They would be so proud.”

It seems all of Southeast Texas is just as proud of Clint and Kathy Harrison’s daughter as they would be. Tamollie’s, 1275 S. Wheeler St., Jasper, holds weekly “Kree” parties every Wednesday, where friends and supporters can gather to watch Harrison perform. Manager Stephen Furlow said the turnout has been great.

“The first night, we had about 100 people crammed into one dining room,” he said. “If they didn’t personally know her, they knew a lot of her friends, and they were just gathering to support her. Most of the staff here are pretty good friends with Kree.”

Furlow said he expects to be hosting “Kree” parties for some time.

“I think she’s going to win it,” he said. “We all knew it from the time she was 8 years old. She sang like a mature adult when she was 10. She’s just awesome.”

Tonight, Team Kree will watch Harrison perform a song from the Motown genre. Everyone is excited, but no one more than Mire, who said her granddaughter’s voice is reminiscent of another local legend.

“I love to hear her sing Janis Joplin,” Mire said. “She can sing anything, but she has a really good voice for blues and soul music. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good night.”

Tune in to Fox to watch Kree perform at 7 p.m. central. To purchase your “Team Kree” shirt, call Hatton at 409-429-4279.

For updates on Kree, follow her on Twitter at @KreeAI12.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA