American Idol viewers may have fallen in love with Kree Harrison this season, but Rosie O’Donnell of all people discovered her first!
Video has surfaced of the season 12 top finalist's multiple visits to O’Donnell’s ‘90s talk show. She first appeared as one of several singers on the program's “Most Talented Kids” episodes, where Harrison -- then 10 years old -- won the hearts of the audience with a cover of Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing." She revealed to O’Donnell that she performed at rodeos around her hometown of Woodville, Texas, and never had a singing lesson.
“Yes ma’am, it’s a God given talent,” she told the charmed host, who was tickled every time the exceedingly polite 5th grader called her “ma’am.”
She also said it would be “such an honor” to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, before she received a huge surprise — O’Donnell arranged a trip for her whole family to travel to Opryland. Sadly, Harrison lost her father in a plane crash one year after the appearance.
She returned to the show later with a sweet and adorable version of departed Idol judge Simon Cowell’s favorite song, “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers.
Harrison revealed to O’Donnell on the show that after she first sang on the program, she received a call from Disney’s now-defunct Lyric Street Records, who signed her to a record deal.
“They loved me,” she said.
In a later return to the show, Harrison revealed that she traded vocals with O’Donnell on the Christmas album, “No Wrapping Required,” and gave extremely humble answers about how her friends at school perceived her success at such a young age.
“No ma’am. I’m kind of normal at school,” she said.
Watch the clips below, and get to know Harrison in her pre-Idol days: