'American Idol' Alum Kree Harrison Opens up About Joys and Struggles of Hit TV Show

American Idol alum Kree Harrison is opening up about her time on the reality TV show. The Texas [...]

American Idol alum Kree Harrison is opening up about her time on the reality TV show. The Texas native was on Season 12 of American Idol in 2013, when she was just 22 years old. But Idol was far from Harrison's first foray into being on stage. Harrison began performing as a small child, and at 10 years old, signed her first record deal, with the now-closed Lyric Street Records.

So by the time Harrison joined the American Idol cast, she was already a seasoned pro, but quickly realized how much she still had to learn.

"I can't speak for anybody else," Harrison told PopCulture.com. "The truth is, I think maybe it helped me from being in the industry for so long. I was no stranger to constructive criticism or rejection, or just straight up criticism. And that existed from a lot of that. But the truth is, I learned how to work my a–– off. I learned worth ethic. I was uncomfortably exhausted at times, and I loved it. I made lifelong friends."

Randy Jackson, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey were the judges when Harrison was on American Idol, giving Harrison plenty of advice each time she performed.

"I feel like it kind of pushed me vocally too, because I wanted to be taken seriously as a singer-songwriter, and not just as a vocalist," Harrison said. "People already knew that I could sing, but didn't know that I could write or had something to say. So I feel like that was my time to really show off my vocals, because I tried so hard to be taken seriously as a songwriter here that I even diluted my range."

"That show kind of helped me realize I could do both," she continued. "I loved it. It's a part of me. I'm not judging anyone else, but the truth is, it's what you make it ... I've dealt with worse, that's for sure. And I feel like you just got to learn from it. I didn't have any bad blood with the producers."

Harrison became the runner-up while on American Idol, with Candice Glover declared the winner. But the show still became a platform for Harrison, who has continued making music since then. The 28-year-old just released "I Love the Lie," written by Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton and Liz Rose.

"I felt immediately connected to it," Harrison recalled of the song. "It's relatable, but also, [Stapleton] was singing the band guitar vocals. Of course I was drawn in, 'cause it's Chris. So that was a plus."

Harrison's new record will show off a new side of her, much of which has evolved since American Idol, while still staying true to the artist and songwriter she has always been.

"I feel like it's going to be showing a big part of me that I haven't shown anyone," Harrison maintained. "2016 was the last time I put out my one and only record, This Old Thing, and I'm really proud of that record. I worship Otis Redding as much as I love country, I got to do my Motown throw back.

"But this record is definitely countrier," she continued. "We've picked all of the songs I'm really proud of it."

Download or stream "I Love the Lie" at Harrison's website.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rogers and Cowan