HunterGirl’s American Idol Season 20 Highlights

The American Idol season 20 runner-up HunterGirl became a fan favorite country singer because of her Nashville audition, which earned her the first platinum ticket of the season. HunterGirl, whose full name is Hunter Wolkonowski, is a 23-year-old music therapist originally from Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee. She knew exactly who she was as an artist and stayed true to herself throughout the whole competition. On American Idol season 20, HunterGirl established herself as one of the show’s greatest country singers.

HunterGirl works with veterans to transform their songs into stories. She has said that she wants to dedicate her life to writing songs for the people that need them. When she performed her original compositions, she wore her heart on her sleeve. She made herself vulnerable in order to help others get in touch with their emotions through her music. HunterGirl also sang many country classics on the show, proving that she could hold her own among some of the greatest country artists.


HunterGirl placed second on American Idol season 20, but she is number one in the hearts of her fans. She was so authentic on the show. Her legacy of singing with heart, straight from her soul, will always be remembered. HunterGirl has a strong catalog of performances from the show that deserve to be highlighted, and here they are:

“Riot” by Rascal Flatts

At her American Idol season 20 audition, the judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan awarded HunterGirl with a golden ticket because of her stellar rendition of “Riot” by Rascal Flatts. Luke called her a “new age Miranda Lambert” and said that she was his favorite female country voice he’d heard in his five years on the show. Luke later surprised HunterGirl with an invitation to perform on stage at his bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge, in downtown Nashville. As HunterGirl sang “Bluebird” by Miranda Lambert, the judges surprised her with the first platinum ticket of the season, which allowed her to skip the first round of Hollywood Week and choose her partner for the duets round. HunterGirl’s performance of “Riot” captured the attention of American Idol viewers, and won their hearts. It established her status as a frontrunner in the competition. For her last performance during the finale, HunterGirl sang a reprise of the song that was, astonishingly, even better than the first performance.

“Heartbreak Down” by HunterGirl

For her Top 20 performance, HunterGirl sang her original song, “Heartbreak Down.” The song is about moving on after a heartbreak. The message of the song is evident through lyrics such as “I’m gonna put this heartbreak down. Get back on my own two feet. Start walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk. And finally doin’ what’s best for me.” At the end of the song, HunterGirl sings, “I’m not gonna let my heart break down.” The judges gave her a standing ovation when she finished singing. Luke told her that when she starts singing, it sounds like country radio, and that she has “that magic sound.” He also let HunterGirl know that the sky is the limit for her. Lionel called her a natural. HunterGirl’s performance of “Heartbreak Down” solidified her place in the competition as a true country artist and songwriter. After the show aired, the song skyrocketed up the music charts, giving a glimpse into HunterGirl’s future after American Idol.

“Baby Girl” by Sugarland

HunterGirl dedicated her Top 14 performance of “Baby Girl” by Sugarland to her parents, which created a very emotional experience for her on the show. Luke told her that the performance was her best moment yet on American Idol. He said that guest mentor and country superstar, Gabby Barrett, who placed third on American Idol season 16, was staring at her competition. Lionel said that she looked the part and sounded the part. He said that HunterGirl looked like “an old pro on that stage.” The performance of “Baby Girl” showed that HunterGirl was ready to take her place in the next generation of great country artists.

“I See the Light” from Tangled

On American Idol Disney Night during the Top 10 week, HunterGirl transformed “I See the Light” from Tangled into a country music ballad. Dressed in a sparkling pink gown with fringes, and enveloped in purple lights, she showed a softer side, and delivered a sensitive performance. She once again earned a standing ovation from the judges. Katy said that the Disney magic was real, and that HunterGirl had never sounded better. She told her that she held notes in such a spectacular way, and pushed her vocals. Katy called “I See the Light” HunterGirl’s “Cinderella moment.” Luke said that the performance showed him so many dynamics of her career after the show. Luke noted that HunterGirl is “a country girl from Tennessee,” but “the elegance and the beauty” in the performance helped him to see awards shows in her future, where she would be in the spotlight.

“Like My Mother Does” by Lauren Alaina

For HunterGirl’s Top 5 Mother’s Day dedication song, she sang “Like My Mother Does” by American Idol season 10 runner-up, Lauren Alaina. The soaring vocals in this song illustrated HunterGirl’s love and admiration for her mother. When she finished singing, she was overcome by emotion. Lionel said that it was amazing that, this far into the show, HunterGirl had him, Katy, and the audience crying. Katy told HunterGirl that this performance proved that she still deserved the platinum ticket, and that she had a “platinum heart” as well. It demonstrated that the judges’ first instincts about HunterGirl were right, and that she had earned her place in the competition.

“Red Bird” by HunterGirl

HunterGirl performed her number one single “Red Bird,” which she wrote, during the American Idol finale, and brought the judges to tears. Katy told her that music is a lot of people’s therapy, and said that artists can help so many people by staying open and vulnerable like HunterGirl. “Red Bird” is about believing that when a cardinal appears, it is really a family member from heaven coming down to visit. As she delivered the song, fans could imagine her singing “Red Bird” at her own concert someday. This performance also showed HunterGirl’s future as a country music artist and songwriter.

HunterGirl is an incredible singer with a heart of gold. As she sang songs by established country artists such as Dolly Parton and Little Big Town, she proved that she was about to take her place beside those legends. With her distinct voice and expert songwriting ability, she is sure to be a success. As her American Idol journey comes to an end, HunterGirl from American Idol is just getting started.

Source: American Idol/YouTube

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