AMERICAN IDOL frontrunner KREE HARRISON endured a double dose of tragedy before soaring to the top of the heap on the hit FOX show.
When Kree was just 11 years old, her beloved father perished in a fiery plane crash. And just eight years later, her mom was killed in a car accident.
But somehow the heartbreak gave the 22-year-old singer the grit and determination to make a success of her life, her proud grandmother Beverly Mire told The ENQUIRER in an exclusive interview.
“Kree’s father Clint died in October 2001 while on an electrical contracting job overseas,” she said. “His plane hit bad weather and crashed into the Mediterranean. His body was never found. The only thing recovered was some clothing and the wing of the plane.
“The news hit Kree like a ton of bricks. She was daddy’s little girl and loved him more than anything.”
Then, in September 2009, Kree was hit with another crushing blow. On her late father’s birthday, her 47-year-old mother Kathy died in a horrific car crash.
Kree’s mom was driving home after spending the day with her sister when a pickup truck made an “unsafe turn” and slammed into her SUV on a two-lane rural road in Orange County, Texas.
“After her mom died, Kree was in a state of total shock,” recalled Beverly, 73. “She went to Nashville to live with her older sister Laci Bruce.”
Despite Kree’s hardships, Beverly says she knew her granddaughter would make it big ever since the youngster started singing in church. Her first break came when she was chosen to perform on the “Rosie O’Donnell Show” at age 8, and she made four appearances on the gabfest by the time she was 12.
After her mom died, Kree landed a recording contract and channeled her grief by co-writing the deeply moving song, “You Would’ve Wanted It That Way.”
“Writing that song about her mom was part of her healing process,” said Beverly, who believes her granddaughter’s courage to overcome the shocking deaths of her parents is reflected in her soulful, country-tinged music.
Kree also had the support of her sister Laci, who encouraged the golden-voiced brunette to reach for the stars at the “Idol” tryouts. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life.
Her stunning performance of “Up to the Mountain” blew away the judges and secured her a spot in “Idol’s” Top 20.
“I fought for you a few times, and I know why,” panelist Keith Urban told the wide-eyed singer following a performance.
“Your voice is one of my favorites in the entire competition.”
Added her doting grandma: “I’m so proud, not just of her talent – but who she is.”