Going Out Sparkling

HunterGirl Finds her Stride After Idol

This month, Chattanooga City Lifestyle took a road trip to Nashville to catch up with American Idol runner-up, HunterGirl. HunterGirl (who got her nickname when people in her hometown of Winchester, TN had trouble saying her last name, Wolkonowski) made Idol history by being the show’s first Platinum Ticket recipient, and ultimately made it to the finale along with winner Noah Thompson.  A singer-songwriter at heart, HunterGirl impressed the judges week after week, and captured the hearts of country music fans across the country in the process. We caught up with her during a busy week in Nashville as she prepared to perform at Whiskey Jam with other Idol alum, and right before she hit the road to perform a whirlwind of shows from Pennsylvania to Alabama. 

Amidst all the excitement and chaos, HunterGirl is just as down-to-earth as you would want her to be.  She is kind, thoughtful, and silly. She seems to know how precious this opportunity is, and she is settling in for what will be much longer than fifteen minutes of fame. We talked to her about her style influences, her experiences on American Idol, and what the future holds as she chases her dreams.

What was the process like getting styled on American Idol?

I dressed myself up until the live shows, then that’s when they started helping me pick my looks. Developing my sense of style while on the show with people who really understood me as a person, that was the coolest part of getting styled. I talked to them about people I looked up to and about my own sense of style—the country western look. I loved getting to come in and look at different options and try things on. I had never experienced anything like that! I was like, this is so cool! They were really kind to me, and really took what I loved and brought it to the stage.

I always dressed according to the song I was singing. If it was a tougher song, I wore leather and fringe and my black boots. When I sang “Baby Girl” by Sugarland, I wore what I would wear in Nashville—a fringe jacket and boots. I think every song has a different feeling and meaning, and if you can pour your style into every song that you sing, it helps the audience connect with you.

Tell us about your personal style.

My personal style is about the sparkles! I love a good sparkle. It’s funny. When I made it to the Top 24 on the show, I was wearing a sparkly dress my mama bought me, and I told them I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not, but whatever happened I wanted to go out sparkling. I also love boots; boots are my guilty pleasure. I have tons of them, my closet is full! I usually don’t leave the house unless I’m in boots. But really anything that makes me feel good, that’s what I wear.

Who are your style inspirations?

I grew up looking up to Dolly Parton. She was always sparkling, wearing fringe, and she had the boots. You know, in my everyday life I wear t-shirts, but when I get on stage, it’s kind of like putting armor on. I loved the ladies on the show who were helping dress me. They did a great job taking what I love and my sense of style and bringing that out to the stage. 

My mama dressed me since I was young, and she’s a huge influence on what I wear on stage. Usually before a show, we would go out and look for things together, so she has always been a huge inspiration for me helping me figure out my sense of style. I think style is so interesting because it’s the first thing people see when you go on stage. The audience sees you and can guess what kind of song you’re going to sing and what kind of artist you are. The clothes you wear tell a story before you even start the song, which I think is so special.

What can we expect from you in the coming months?

I hit the ground running right when I got off the plane from American Idol! I got back and started writing again, and I’ve been playing shows non-stop. I am working on new music, and I’m going to be playing shows coming up, and I’m just so happy! I have wanted to do music my entire life, and this experience has been life-changing. There’s been a lot of full-circle moments, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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