From the moment “American Idol” aired Scotty McCreery singing Josh Turner’s “Your Man” during his first audition in early 2011, the teen’s deep voice caught the fancy of viewers. He went on to win the show’s 10th competition.
But that hardly guaranteed anything in terms of future career longevity. McCreery had to do the hard work learning the country music business, finding his voice and navigating his own maturation into an adult.
“Idol” ended up being his starting point, not a highlight of his career.
“People are more likely to come up to me and tell me how ‘Five More Minutes’ was their wedding song than talk about ‘Idol,’” said McCreery in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That means the world to me. I didn’t go on the show to be a TV guy. At the same time, I have nothing negative to say about ‘Idol.’ I appreciate that they gave me my start.”
McCreery now has enough successful original songs that in concert, he no longer needs to rely on cover songs beyond a medley. “We’ve got a little story time built in to talk about my musical journey and we’ll play snippets from folks who influenced me a lot,” he said. “And we’ll play cuts from the new album. Atlanta will be one of the first places we’ll be playing them.”
Though that new album has not been given an official release date, his latest single “Cab in a Solo” is a top 20 hit on the Billboard country airplay chart. The mid-tempo break-up song has a 1990s vibe to it. Stylistically, he said, “it spoke to what I loved listening to growing up.”
The video, which came out last week, features McCreery in the cab of a truck literally drinking out of a red Solo cup, snippets of him with his 15-month-old son Avery and concert footage of him performing at a massive Nebraska volleyball tournament that drew a whopping 98,000 people. This was, he said, the biggest live audience he has ever played in front of.
“He’s such a busy man,” McCreery said. “The night before, he was in Vegas. He flew to Nashville just to be there for me. That meant the world to me.”
He said he can’t quite believe at age 30 that he’s already in the Opry. “All my heroes have played that stage,” he said. “But I do feel like an old soul. I have a deep appreciation and respect for what the Opry means to country music. It really changed the course of history back in the day.”
McCreery has stayed grounded by never leaving his hometown of Garner, North Carolina, five miles south of Raleigh. His wife, Gabi, is the same woman he was dating when he was on “Idol.”
“I enjoy stepping outside of the business and craziness of it all,” McCreery said. “People here for the most part just treat me as their neighbor. And Gabi has been a rock for me. I wouldn’t be here without her. She’s been here for all the ups and downs and has always been my biggest cheerleader.”
And he has enjoyed being a father.
“It’s the coolest thing,” he said, “way cooler than ‘Idol’ or anything just being a parent, seeing Avery grow up and develop his own personality. I can’t wait to see him grow up.”
Avery, he said, already recognizes his voice when he hears his dad sing on the radio. “When we play ‘Cab in a Solo,’ he starts dancing and saying ‘Dada!’” he said.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.