PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

May 4, 2013

'Let Kreedom Ring'

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

Woodville — You can take the girl out of Southeast Texas, but you can’t take Southeast Texas out of the girl. Just ask Kree Harrison.

“I’ve been homesick for 13 years,” the “American Idol” finalist told a crowd of admirers gathered at United Methodist Church, 515 Walt Davis Dr., Woodville. “I come back here as much as I possibly can, and will continue to do that. This is where my roots are.”

Harrison, 22, moved to Nashville from her native Woodville at age 10, to pursue a musical career. But on Saturday, May 4, just two days after being named to the Top 3 on “Idol,” she returned to her roots –this time with a camera crew.

 “It’s amazing, actually being able to thank all of you for voting and keeping my confidence up,” Harrison said. “I’m going to hug as many of you as I possibly can before I leave.”

That down-to-earth charm, combined with lavish praise from “Idol” judges, has earned Harrison a devoted fan base. Thousands of fans, affectionately known as “Kreepers,” lined the streets of Woodville to catch a glimpse of Harrison during a parade held in her honor. Most of them sported signs and shirts with messages such as “Let Kreedom Sing” and “Kree(m) Always Rises to the Top.”

Miranda Fisette traveled to Woodville from her home in Bridge City – where she attended school with Harrison briefly in 2004-05.

“She’s a cousin of a good friend of mine,” Fisette said. “My friend always said, ‘My cousin’s going to be famous.’”

Alyce Haynie, Fisette’s 1-year-old daughter, is also a fan.

“Any time Kree sings, she dances like crazy,” Fisette said. “She dances more for Kree than she does for Angie (Miller, Harrison’s fellow Top 3 finalist).”

Joette Webb, who made the trip from Orange, said it is Harrison’s authenticity that keeps her voting.

“She’s such a sweet-spirited lady,” Webb said. “And she sings from her soul.”

Harrison’s biggest fans were also among the audience – her sister Laci Bruce and her grandmother Beverly Mire, of Groves.

“We’re so blessed,” Mire said. “It goes along with her God-given gift.”

Harrison said it was her sister who inspired her to audition for “Idol.”

“It’s such a big step,” she said. “You have to know who you are as an artist. But my amazing sister and I talked about it. We thought long and hard. I decided it was the right thing to do, and I don’t regret it.”

Before the parade, Harrison reminisced with childhood friends and discussed her experiences on “Idol,” which she called “more than I hoped for.”

“My favorite moment was going to the children’s hospital (in Los Angeles),” Harrison said. “This is an amazing process, because you wouldn’t be able to do these things necessarily this fast if it weren’t for ‘Idol.’ The platform and opportunities they give you has definitely been my favorite. It’s so fast-paced, but everything is worth it.”

With a tough battle for next week’s Top 2 and the promise of a national tour ahead of her, it is uncertain when Harrison will visit her hometown again. But, she said, Woodville will always be her home.

And besides, Southeast Texans can always catch her at the Mecca of country music – Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

“I’ve been ready for that for a long time,” Harrison said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA