Woodville native and Southeast Texas sweetheart Kree Harrison may already be a local hero, the 22-year-old battled to be America's Idol against fellow Southerner Candice Glover from South Carolina Wednesday night.
The finale was predicted to be a battle of the genres - R&B vs. Country - but both ladies brought the soul and as Judge Nicki Minaj said they "really pulled from the gut."
Harrison started out the night with a rousing rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and it's doubtful there were any dry seats in the Nokia Theatre arena as she sang her country-infused take on the song. She donned a Grecian-style cream colored gown with her long brown hair styled like a princess and minimal jewelry.
She may have been dressed and made up by L.A. stylists, but there was a glimmer of Southeast Texas style and charm in Harrison's face and stature as she soulfully traveled through the popular 90s song.
R&B/pop contender Glover took on Adele's "Chasing Pavements," where she was able to reach down in the depths of her vocal range.
Though their musical stylings are vastly different, their first performances of the evening were full of emotion.
Judge Randy Jackson said that the two songs Harrison and Glover sang were "a bit sleepy," so for their second time at bat each singer brought something different.
The emotional and moody "All Cried Out" could be Harrison's first single if she wins the competition Thursday night. The classic-sounding Country song was understated and subtle which all the judges commented on.
Though female Country singers have won "Idol" before, none are quite like Harrison. Whereas she is soulful and serious, Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood is a twangy ball of "I Am Woman - Hear Me Roar."
Many can argue that Country singers do not represent America as much as a pop "Idol" does, but there's no denying Underwood's immense popularity on the Country and Top 40 charts. She has easily been one of the most successful "Idols" in the show's 12 seasons.
Glover's second song "I Am Beautiful" spoke to a different kind of audience. It was part R&B and vaguely reminiscent of Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson, both Season 3 contestants.
This is the the first girl vs. girl season finale since Season 3 between 19-year-old Fantasia and 16-year-old Diana DeGarmo. Fantastia ended up winning the title that year and went on to have a decent amount of success on the charts and even segued into a short acting/memoir writing career via Lifetime Movie Channel fans.
The contestants finished out Wednesday's finale with their favorite song of the season.
Harrison, who changed from the basic black-and-white ensembles that she has worn all season to a vibrant red get-up, pulled out all the stops with her final song. The camera panned to her grandmother, Beverly Mire of Groves, and siblings on the front row who were all clapping, smiling and tearing up as their Southeast Texas girl with a giant heart sang onstage.
"You both have soul and you shouldn't be afraid to show it," Judge Randy Jackson said to Harrison after she finished, with fellow judge Mariah Carey chiming in: "It's going to be very difficult for America tonight."
Make sure to watch tonight for the two-hour "American Idol" finale at 7 p.m. on FOX.