PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 19, 2013

An Idol for Southeast Texas

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

GROVES — Ever since Kree Harrison was a young girl, her grandmother, Beverly Mire, knew that she was something special.

However, she also knew that she was biased.

“My daughter and I always used to say to each other, ‘Do you think she’s really as talented as we think she is?’” said Mire, who lives in Groves.

Mire would get her answer when Harrison was a guest on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” at the tender age of 8.

“Rosie said, ‘Kree, where did you get that beautiful singing voice?’ Mire recalled. “And she just looked up at her and said, ‘It’s a God-given gift.’”

O’Donnell also asked, “Kree, why are you so polite? Why do you always say, ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘No, ma’am?’”

Harrison replied, “Because my mama says I have to.”

O’Donnell was so impressed with Harrison that she invited her on the show two more times.

“Rosie said, ‘This girl is not only very talented, she’s just a beautiful little person, inside and out,’” Mire said.

Now the world knows what Mire and O’Donnell have known for years. Last Thursday, Harrison advanced to the next round of “American Idol,” ranking among the top three contestants.

“I was so excited,” said Mire, who watched the performance from her home. “Seeing her advance was very touching.”

Mire had the opportunity to speak with her granddaughter by telephone on March 15, when a producer from the show stopped by Groves.

“I had a nice little visit with her,” Mire said. “She is doing just fantastic. She’s having a ball. She says they’re working hard every day, but it’s really productive and a lot of fun.”

And just like the 8-year-old girl who appeared on national television on a Friday night and awakened early Saturday morning to complete her assigned chores, Mire said her granddaughter remains as humble as ever.

“She said she’s made some wonderful friends,” Mire said. “They’re all just like one big happy family.”

One would think that being in such close quarters might cause friction between the contestants, but Mire said that is not the case with Harrison.

 “That’s just the way Kree is, no matter where she goes,” Mire laughed. “If there was competition, she probably wouldn’t know. She just loves everybody.”

That love extends to the residents of Southeast Texas who have rallied in support of their hometown hero. Mire has distributed flyers urging people to vote for Harrison in seven other states, including California, New York and Wyoming, but she said her granddaughter is especially grateful for those in her home state.

“She is just overwhelmed by all the support she’s getting from people down here,” Mire said. “She says she’s very blessed.”

Mire is looking forward to watching her granddaughter perform tonight on “Idol,” which airs on Fox at 7 p.m. central. She has already scored tickets to watch Harrison in person on April 10.

“Kree said, ‘I hope I’m still here!’” Mire said. “And I really do think she will be.”

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

 Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA