To get an idea of who the next country legends will be, take a look at who today’s legends adore.
Emmylou Harris and Wynonna Judd are just a few of the genre’s masters who can’t get enough of Kree Harrison. With a powerful, honeyed voice and unrivaled musical style that stand out in any genre, what’s not to love?
Judd and Harris have been forever fans since discovering the Texas native and longtime Nashvillian in her rise to prominence on American Idol, and it’s the support that floors Harrison every time she hears from them. Judd recently dug up a vintage backstage photograph with a 10-year-old Harrison and Joe Diffie at one of his annual First Steps benefits and texted it to Harrison along with a personal note raving about Harrison’s new music.
“It’s crazy,” Harrison tells CMT.com, “Wynonna and I, we’ve become really good friends. Her quote for my new music made me cry in my coffee.”
These are Judd’s words on Harrison: “As an artist, what matters the most to me is the amazing young woman that you are who has such heart who stands for what is real and what is true and what is authentic. You’re a pioneer. You have a unique gift that is rare in this life. I love your fire … You’re the next generation of greatness.”
Harris also sent kind words praising Harrison’s contributions to music. “Kree is one of my favorite singers that’s why I voted for her on American Idol,” she wrote.
Harrison draws inspiration from these powerful women and the women of ‘90s country in the new music she has in the works. Today (Feb. 12) she exclusively premieres, “I Love the Lie,” an original by Chris Stapleton, with CMT.com. It’s a commanding performance that showcases Harrison’s dynamic vocals in their purest form and the first release of new music from a forthcoming album with producers Jordan Lehning and Skyler Wilson.
CMT.com: The immediate sonic reference I heard in this song was Trisha Yearwood.
Harrison: That’s the biggest compliment. I will take it. She’s one of the few that I have not met, and I sincerely think I’d be star-struck.
How much of the women of ‘90s country music and that era influenced you as an artist?
It’s what made me appreciate being able to pull from our heroes – Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette — and still make it in the time. I have the utmost respect for Wynonna. I feel it was the ultimate girl power back in the day; especially in the ‘90s. We had Trisha, the Judds, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire. It was so cool in that moment they were all coming out at the same time. There was room for everyone. There was no competitiveness. I feel like that vibe is making its way back.
How does this new music set up the Kree Harrison of tomorrow? Were there particular genres or bands you found yourself referencing in the recording process?
It will show people another side of me; things I didn’t share on Idol, sounds I didn’t make on my first record I put out in 2016. I’m pulling a lot of my influences that I grew up with in the ‘90s. There are too many to name; especially women.
This Old Thing was soulful to the core. What can you share about the creative direction of your next project?
Well, I am headed to Echo Mountain studios in Asheville, N.C. next week to finish making the record, and I’m so excited for the puzzle pieces to all come together.
How much of the music did you write and how much of it was autobiographical versus the story of someone else? Was there a particularly hard lyric to write?
I took some time to write for this record within the Nashville community. I even did a writer’s retreat at the very house I lived in with some of my closest friends. In my opinion, I wouldn’t feel right to deny myself of cutting outside songs because we are spoiled here with so many talented writers. I can’t imagine my ears never being able to hear a voice like Patsy sing “Crazy” just because she didn’t write it.
In your Nashville life, have you had any other connections with Chris Stapleton or opportunities to work with him?
I’ve been a fan for a long time. I’ve met him and his wife, and they are lovely humans and really damn talented. I use to listen to Morgane Stapleton’s music long before they were married. Her voice has always been so angelic.