Since finishing seventh on Season 7 of American Idol, Kristy Lee Cook has released an album and hosted a variety of outdoor shows on cable TV.
Now 29 and living in Nashville, Kristy Lee is working on a new album. And Monday night (Sept. 9) at 6:30 p.m., she’ll perform on the WGTY Great Country Radio Stage at the York Fair. The show is free with admission to the fair.
About three years ago, she signed with Broken Bow Records, home of country stars Jason Aldean and Dustin Lynch, and sister label to Stoney Creek Records, home of Randy Houser and Thompson Square.
With Broken Bow, Kristy Lee has released a pair of singles, “Airborne Ranger Infantry,” with lyrics based in part on letters her father wrote about his Vietnam War experience, and “Wherever Loves Goes,” a duet with Randy Houser that hit iTunes late last month.
For coverage and photos from Kristy Lee’s show, check back with Idol Chatter next Monday night.
Here’s what Kristy Lee had to say about her new music, her Idol past and the upcoming show when I spoke to her last week.
Idol Chatter: You’ve just released a new single, “Wherever Love Goes.” You had recorded a version of the song for Randy Houser’s album. How did it become a Kristy Lee Cook single and what type of reception are you getting to it?
Kristy Lee: It was kind of weird the way it all worked out. We cut it for Randy’s album, and Benny Brown, the president of Broken Bow Records, he just loves the song. Benny told us we were going to do it together. Randy’s album was coming out first, and he wanted to put it on his record. We cut the vocals for it. It turned out really great and, then Benny was like, ‘Let’s cut this for yours. Let’s do this song and release it as a single.’
Randy has so many singles on his album, and I think they already had their plans on which ones they wanted to release before this song came into play, so they thought, ‘Well, shoot, let’s give Kristy a song that’s hopefully going to go number one.’ I’m like, ‘That’s fine with me.’ It was Randy’s idea to go in and re-cut the vocals to kind of make it more my song. It just worked out. I don’t even know how it worked out the way it did, but it did. The vocals went well together. You just have to trust Benny. I believe in this song. Hopefully, it will do really well (The Randy Houser version of the song is embedded below).
Idol Chatter: So when might we see the new album you’re working on? Is there a timetable for the release?
Kristy Lee: We’re almost done with it, actually. We’re going to go back in and cut a few more that I wrote. Then, I’m not exactly sure. I guess it kind of depends on how the single does. We want to get some traction with it. That’s kind of the hope and the plan — that this song does really well and kind of gets me where I want to go, and then we release this album. We’ve got some great songs and a lot of variety on it. It’s got some real rocking stuff and some mid-tempos and some just real country ballads.
Idol Chatter: Tell me about some of the other new songs fans might hear at the show in York.
Kristy Lee: I’m really excited because there’s this song we’re getting ready to cut that I really want to do. I called Benny up and I was like, ‘Benny, can I please cut this song? I really want to do it. It suits me to a T. I love this song. I wrote it. It’s just me.’ He called back and he was like, ‘You’ve been patient enough. I think I’m going to let my little cowgirl have her cowgirl song.’ It’s called ‘Looking for a Cowgirl.’ It’s a very rocking, fun, country song. I love performing it on stage. I can’t wait to perform it for a crowd, because I’ve only done that one other time.
Idol Chatter: And that’s a song you wrote?
Kristy Lee: I co-wrote it with Bridgette Tatum. She’s one of my favorite people to write with because every time we write together — well, she is a total hillbilly chick. I always call her the drinking version of me because I don’t drink. We’re very horses and four-wheelers and outdoors and hunting and fishing and all that. So every time we get together we write these ‘she’s country’ songs and it’s a lot of fun. We really rock when we’re together.
Idol Chatter: How would you compare the music you’re making now to the album you released after Idol? If I recall right, that album was out in a heartbeat.
Kristy Lee: It was. It was recorded in four days. I would definitely say (the new music) is a lot different. Coming off Idol, you don’t have a lot of say in what you do. You just have to kind of go with what you’re told to do. So I didn’t have very much say in anything that I did. I didn’t write any of the songs. We didn’t really have much time to pick songs. It was really kind of a rush. I mean, we got great songs, and I was fortunate to like the single that I did release — ’15 Minutes of Shame’ — but it was really rushed.
Obviously, cutting an album in four days is really kind of pushing it, especially when I was on tour and there was one day when I had a sinus infection. It was a bit rough around the edges. For the way we had to rush it, it turned out really well. But this album is so much different. I’ve written probably half of the songs. I have a say in every single song I cut. If I don’t like it, I don’t do it. If I love the song, I can do it. It’s been really, really neat.
Idol Chatter: Now, there are an awful lot of country singers vying for country radio’s attention, and it seems like the singing shows are drawing attention to new country singers every time you turn around. What are you hoping will set you apart?
Kristy Lee: This thing with me, I’m just a real country girl. I ride. I hunt. I fish. I love the outdoors. I drive a camouflaged car. (She laughs.) I’m just, to the root, really country. I think instead of pretending that I’m country, people will know that I am actually a real country girl.
I feel like that’s what sets me apart. I’m in my boots every day. I hardly ever wear high heels unless I’m at an awards show. I don’t just sing about country music, I am a country girl. I think it works. Hey, and there’s not one (other) girl that drives a camouflaged Camaro, I’m telling you.
Idol Chatter: Speaking of how country you are, people might remember you as the Idol contestant who sold a horse to finance a trip to the auditions. And judging from your Facebook page, you’re still very involved with horses.
Kristy Lee: I don’t have my horses here, so it’s really hard for me. When I go home, they’re like, ‘Oh, Lord, she’s back,’ because I’m hugging them all the time and giving them kisses. I have four. They’re in Oregon. I go home and rodeo and barrel race every chance I get.
That’s one of the things I really want to do eventually. I really want to barrel race and compete in rodeo and have a concert after the rodeo. That’s one of my goals in life.