American Idol Kristy Lee Cook leaves music behind for rodeo

Kristy-Lee and son Tillman.
Kristy-Lee and son Tillman.

An American Idol finalist is not who you’d expect to see in the arena at the Mount Isa Rodeo but it is one of the many strings to Kristy-Lee Cook’s bow.

On Sunday Cook will be representing the US team in barrel racing as part of the international challenge at the Mount Isa Rodeo, the richest rodeo in the southern hemisphere.

But as well as being a top international rodeo cowgirl, Cook is also an established country music star haven risen to fame in the US on the back of her seventh place in the 2008 season of American Idol.

The Oregon native has been singing since she was 13 and carries an intense love for country music, horses and the outdoors.

Cook’s singles “Airborne Ranger Infantry” (inspired by poems written by her father while serving in the Vietnam War) and “Wherever Love Goes” (a duet with Randy Houser) were critically lauded while Australian audiences will be familiar with her song “That’s my kind of tough” recorded by Shea Fischer.

Cook has also established a TV career as host of US shows Goin’ Country and Outdoors 10 best and is currently Hosting The Most Wanted List on the Sportsmans Channel.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Kristy-Lee Cook will be showing her barrel racing skills in the arena this weekend. Photo: supplied

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Kristy-Lee Cook will be showing her barrel racing skills in the arena this weekend. Photo: supplied

If all that wasn’t enough she has just given birth to her first baby and she has taken three-month old son Tillman with her on her long haul trip from Texas to Mount Isa.

“I’m really excited to come back to Australia, especially to get to compete in my first pro rodeo - it’s been about nine years since I was here last,” Cook said.

“I love Australia and the people here have always been so welcoming.”

Cook said she was honour to represent the US in barrels.

“But I’m mostly excited to be in your beautiful place while doing what I love.”

When asked by the North West Star whether she was a barrel racer who also did music or a musician who also raced barrels, her answer was disarming: “Shoot – I don’t know!” she said.

“My real passion is barrel racing but I’ve always sang my whole life.”

Cook is hoping to get back into the rodeo groove to complement her success in music and TV.   

“I train my own horses, currently seasoning my nice mare who is competitive and just recently started rodeoing some,” she said.

We asked her would she be singing while in Mount Isa.

“I don’t think I am, unless there is a karaoke around,” she replied.

North West Star