Off The Record: Huntergirl Talks Memorable Moments on ‘American Idol’ and Releasing Her Latest EP

“I think music is supposed to help people. We’re supposed to reach people when we sing. [Singing] that kind of song on TV—that was my moment,” Huntergirl said when she joined American host Suzanne Alexander for American Songwriter’s latest installment of Off The Record.

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The 24-year-old country music hopeful appeared on the latest season of American Idol, capturing the hearts of the three heavyweight judges—Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan—right off the bat. The American public followed soon after as she made it all the way to the finale, eventually coming in second behind Noah Thompson.

Despite missing out on the win, her crooning vocals and intimate original song, “Red Bird,” has made her one to watch in the country scene. She sat down with American Songwriter to chat about her Idol experience, receiving praise from Bryan and her most recent EP, One Day.

“It was the craziest year of my life,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t think I’d make it past the Nashville audition, much less make it to the top two with Noah. It has been a really great time and I was gonna be proud by the end of it no matter what happened.”

After she finished off the last notes of her audition song, “Riot” by Rascal Flatts, Bryan immediately sang her praises noting he wrote down “Top 10,” predicting her fate on the show right then and there.

“I’ve looked up to Luke Bryan my whole life,” she said. “So going to that first national audition, I was like, ‘I’m going to be in front of three of the biggest people in music.’ I was scared to death. So when Luke told me that in the audition room it meant everything to me.”

One of her most memorable moments on the show was a performance of an original track “Red Bird.” She sang through the heartwarming offering on the show’s finale, wrapping up her stint with a bang. Huntergirl notes the performance as particularly important to her and her family. (Watch Her Off The Record performance of “Red Bird” HERE.)

“There were so many special moments on the show, but I think getting to sing my single, “Red Bird” in the finale [is one of the most special]. That song meant so much to me and my family. That song is like taking my heart out and laying it right there.”

“Redbirds have been a thing in my life since I was a little girl even,” told American Songwriter. “My mom told me whenever I was little that whenever you would see a red bird, it was a sign that someone was watching you up in heaven.”

She said of her inspiration behind writing the song, “I was driving back to my parents’ house. I was talking to God and I just said, ‘I know everything’s gonna be okay but, could you just let me know?’ and a red bird flew down in front of my car.”

Elsewhere in the episode of Off The Record, Huntergirl talked about hitting the ground running after her Idol success, releasing her first EP, and walking through her songwriting process for some of the tracks.

Watch the full episode below.

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