It was a reunion of sorts with Idol host Ryan Seacrest, as the American Idol season 20 grand finale aired Sunday night (May 22) and crowned Louisa, Kentucky native, Noah Thompson the winner. HunterGirl finished the competition as the runner-up.
The singer from Winchester, Tennessee just celebrated her 24th birthday earlier this week. And in those two dozen years, Hunter’s life has changed in ways she could not have imagined. “If you’da told me a year ago that I’d be here talking to y’all..I would’ve told you, you were about crazy!”
Hunter shared with Ryan and co-host Kelly Ripa how she knew she wanted to sing when she was only a little girl. “I sang all the time. I grew up singing in my grandpa’s church.” Growing up in a military family, she didn’t move around a lot. But her grandfather, great grandfather and six of her great uncles all served. “I really appreciate everything they do,” she said. She appreciates veterans so much, that she works as a musical therapist, helping vets deal with PTSD.
“I Lost My Mind!”
The young singer admitted that she was completely starstruck when season 4 winner Carrie Underwood mentored the Top 5 in Las Vegas. “I lost my mind!” Hunter gushed. When meeting her, Hunter’s mind went blank. “Every word to your song I just forgot it, because I’m freaking out right now!” she told the country icon. Fun fact: Hunter was only 7 years old when Carrie won the show in 2005. “Watching her on TV, I thought, maybe I could do that someday,” Hunter said.
Hunter is looking forward to the future. “I’m excited to get back to work again. Go back in the studio, record new music, play as many shows as come my way. This past year has probably been the best year of my life,” Hunter said. “I’m just putting out new music right now.”
A full circle moment
After the interview, Hunter performed her original song “Red Bird” that she wrote with Austin Goodloe and Matt McKinney. As of Thursday morning the song is charting at No 3 on the iTunes overall chart.
She described the song’s deep personal meaning to Ryan and Kelly: “Growing up, my mom always said ‘whenever you see a red bird it’s a sign that somebody is watching over you’. When I was going back home to watch the first episode of American Idol I was freaking out…scared. I didn’t think anybody was going to like me. I started praying.” She asked God for a sign that everything would be alright, and a red bird flew in front of her car. Soon, she got back to Nashville and wrote the song.
Watch HunterGirl perform “Red Bird” on Live with Kelly and Ryan