American Idol’s Kree Harrison: From Tragedy To Triumph

Kree Harrison was just 10 years old when she performed Martina McBride’s song “A Broken Wing” on The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 2001. The youngster from Woodville, Texas – who “began singing in church when she was three,” her aunt, Penny Harrison, tells Star – blew Rosie and her national viewing audience away, and the appearance set the stage for a move to Nashville in pursuit of stardom.

That goal is in reach now that Kree, 22, has warbled her way into the American Idol finals. The journey hasn’t been easy, however, with the usual showbiz stops and starts, successes and disappointments along the way. But there’s no greater measure of Kree’s character than how she was able to rise above the horrific accidents, eight years apart, that robbed her of both parents.

Kree was 11 when her father, Harold, a machinist, and seven coworkers were killed when their plane disappeared off the coast of Spain in October 2001 en route to a job in Africa for an energy company. “Her daddy would have driven Kree to the moon if that’s where she wanted to sing,” says Penny. “That’s the kind of love he had for her.”

Eight years later, she lost her mother, Kathy, 47, when she died in a September 2009 car crash in Texas. Kree later wrote a song, “You Would’ve Wanted It That Way,” as a loving tribute to her mom.

“We’ve all had such a hard road with her parents’ passing away so young,” Penny says. “Kree was their little songbird. It was her mom and dad who always encouraged her to sing and follow her heart.”

Which Kree has clearly willed herself to do after such emotional devastation. “With anything, even tragedy, you have to move forward and take the positive out of a negative situation,” Kree has said. Penny adds: “Kree is determined and dedicated. She’s never given up – and that won’t change now.”

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