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Meet the last women standing on ‘American Idol’

It hasn’t been an easy road for the three final American Idol contestants.

Candice Glover was twice rejected by the show before making it to the final three. Kree Harrison chased her dream for so long in Nashville, she thought it might be time to give up. And Angie Miller sang despite having suffered ruptured ear drums and impaired hearing.

Now the three women will duke it out tonight on Fox as the journey winds down for two of them – and one is crowned the winner on next week’s finale. Here are their stories.

Candice Glover

The third time has been the charm for Glover.

She made it past the first round of American Idol auditions in Season 9 and Season 11, but didn’t make it to the semifinals. This season, her slow, burning, powerful version of The Cure’s “Lovesong” was called the greatest performance ever on the show by judge Randy Jackson, who has been there since the beginning.

“I’m definitely proof dreams come true,” Glover said when she returned last weekend to her hometown of St. Helena Island, S.C. “No matter how many times you get a ‘no,’ you keep trying to get a ‘yes.’ ”

After last season’s near-miss, Glover said she took time to assess her strengths and weaknesses as a performer. She never had a vocal coach, and she credits what she did with herself – not the turnover in three of the show’s four judges – with her success.

“It’s the change in me, not the judges. It’s the fact I worked really hard and prepared myself, compared to before,” Glover said.

Kree Harrison

Idol finalist Harrison has a piece of advice for aspiring contestants: “You have to know who you are because if you don’t, it’s even harder.”

The native Texan has spent the last 13 years in Music City – Nashville, Tenn. – chasing the dream, and part of that long journey has been maintaining her personal vision as an artist. That vision has landed the 22-year-old as one of three finalists on Idol. After a couple of failed deals that would have required her to change her sound, she had started to think it might be time to give up, though.

“Nashville has taught me so much – the people, the writing community, the whole town,” Harrison said in a phone interview. “They’ll make you stronger. Probably since I was not trying anymore, I thought what do I have to lose (trying out for Idol)? I can maybe create this following that I need. That was my initial goal. Idol gives artists such a great platform to start your career. Hopefully however big your following will be, you’ll make great music and someone will get it. It’s been crazy. And worth it.”

Angie Miller

Miller’s poise and confidence seem as effortless as her high notes.

The 19-year-old Idol finalist from Beverly, Mass., took guest mentor Harry Connick Jr.’s teasing in stride when he claimed that his family – Connick aside – loves her voice.

Earlier this season, when given the choice of picking a song from a playlist or an original for the show’s crucial Hollywood auditions, Miller went with her own tune, “You Set Me Free,” although only family and friends had heard it.

“I’m really confident in myself as an artist and the music I do,” Miller said during a break in rehearsals for this week’s showdown. She did seek a less partial opinion, from Idol vocal coach Matt Rohde, and no punches pulled.

“I looked at Matt and said, ‘You need to tell me if this song isn’t good enough. Tell me if it’s a bad idea,’ ” she said. He applauded it, and so did the judges who gave a standing ovation to the piano-playing brunette with the wide smile.

One her most rousing Idol performances came after the Boston Marathon bombings, when she dedicated the song “I’ll Stand by You” to “my home, Boston.”

It was in childhood that she suffered ruptured ear drums and impaired hearing, Miller said. The problem worsened when one ear drum deteriorated further, and the doctor who diagnosed it last year recommended that she undergo skin graft surgery post-Idol.

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