As the American Idol Live tour enters its final week with a concert Sunday at the Covelli Centre, it's a bittersweet time for Kree Harrison.
The 23-year-old Texas native, who finished second to Candice Glover in the televised singing competition, is looking forward to getting to work on her debut album. At the same time, she realizes she'll soon be leaving the people she's been touring with for the last month and living with and competing against for most of 2013.
"I don't want the tour to end," Harrison said during a telephone interview from a tour stop in Manchester, N.H. "I'm doing what I love to do with people that I love. That being said, I'm definitely ready for the next step in my solo career."
Harrison may be better prepared than most "Idol" stars to make the move into the recording studio. Harrison's family moved to Nashville when she was a child so she could pursue a career in music, and she's been hearing songs for years from Nashville songwriters that she knew she wanted to record if she ever got the chance. She's also been writing her own songs.
And she has some successful friends to call for advice. Before she was select for the 12th season of "American Idol," Harrison sang backing vocals on Kacey Musgraves' critically acclaimed album "Same Trailer Different Park."
"We met a few years ago through a mutual friend, a mutual cowriter, and we've been best friends ever since to tell you the truth," Harrison said. "She's been kicking butt."
WHAT: American Idol Live
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Covelli Centre, 229 E. Front St., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $66, $46 and $33.50.
Several other Nashville friends are starting to see career breakthroughs as well.
"It's like something's in the air with our little family," she said.
In addition to several group numbers, Harrison gets to perform her own mini-set on the "AI" tour. She been singing "All Cried Out," which was written for her for the finale and is her first single; Patty's Griffin's "Up to the Mountain," which she sang on the show; and Alabama Shakes' "Hold On," which she didn't perform on television.
"Our crowd is young and old," Harrison said. "I wanted to do something that could be current (and appeal) to young and old. I love Alabama Shakes and I love that song. It's fun and the crowd gets into it."
The tour is Harrison's first real experience on the road, performing about five times a week and traveling in between. Harrison said she makes sure to get her rest, but the schedule is a breeze compared to what she faced competing weekly on television and less pressure-packed.
"We sleep more now than we ever did on the show."