American Idol winner Scotty McCreery has had the year of a lifetime, including a jam-packed summer that has brought him the opportunity to perform with one of his musical role models and hitting the road with his fellow Idol contestants.
On August 14, the refreshingly polite and down-to-earth teen can be seen on the ABC special CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock (8 p.m. ET) alongside Josh Turner. “It was pretty wild,” McCreery says of the experience. “Especially walking out there and hearing the screams. Looking out and seeing a sea of people. It's definitely something I will never forget.”
As for Turner, McCreery says the country star has been like his musical godfather. “I've met so many different people, but I definitely have to say that someone whose been the greatest to me so far has been Josh Turner,” McCreery adds. “He's just been a great guy to talk to and we've emailed. He's just been giving me a lot of good advice. It's just been great to have him there.”
McCreery talked to PARADE about his whirlwind year, his dream girl, and what the American Idol tour bus is really like.
How do you amp yourself up to perform every night?
“It's definitely the feeling of knowing it's a different crowd every night. You try to get the best reaction from them and it's just a lot of fun to go out there and sing for them. We're playing in arenas which is a big step up from the coffee shops I'm used to playing at home. It's definitely a lot of fun.”
What's the biggest change in your life post-Idol?
“It's definitely still my normal lifestyle. I'm a pretty average kid. I'm just a normal teenager doing normal stuff. Going out to eat, trying to hang out with the boys back home. It's tougher for me to do that now and it's tougher for me to keep up with them back home or doing anything without having to stop and take pictures. But that's all part of the job description, so it's alright.”
Are you dating at the moment? “Dating has kind of been on the backburner for me. I haven't really had time to think about that with this whole tour thing. But it's definitely going to be tough and I've told many people that I'm not looking to go out there and find the most beautiful girl in the world who likes me because I'm Mr. American Idol Scott McCreery. If I could just find a nice hometown girl who just likes me for who I am, that's all I want.”
You're going into your senior year. Are you going back to school?
“Yeah, that's definitely something we're looking at. Hopefully, we'll get this album out quick enough to allow me to go back to school. Even if it's two or three days a week. Just to go back to school and have as normal as possible a life. It's never going to be normal again, but I want to make the memories that every 18-year old has of their senior year and not totally miss that point in my life.”
“Oh, I know, I know! And high school football games and homecoming. You can't miss that stuff.”
What have you learned from performing with a pro like Josh Turner?
“You always look at the professionals and the people who have done it countless times. Just to pick up on certain things and learn more about stage presence and interacting with the crowd. I'm still young, I still have a lot to learn. I'm definitely trying to pick up as much as possible from everybody that I meet because they know a lot more about this little gig than I do.”
What's the best piece of advice you've gotten so far? “Don't change, stay in your lane. Be who you are and don't let Nashville or Hollywood get to your head. Stay grounded, stay me. The minute I get a big head and start acting like the big man on campus, it's all downhill from there.”
How do you keep grounded?
“I was raised that way. I'm out here with mama, too, so the minute I start acting like a big guy, she'll be there to keep me grounded and stay in my shoes. For me, it's just humbling to be here and I keep going to the fact that I was bagging groceries not too long ago. This is definitely a big leap for me and I'm going to make the most of it.”
Do you have a theme to your album yet?
“We haven't sat down and talked about it, but naturally I think it's been the small town kind of thing that middle America can relate to. It talks a lot about the normal life. High school life and country life. Stuff that a lot of people like to hear and need to hear.”
Is it a prank-filled environment on the Idol tour buses?
“It's definitely fun. We're all guys so we have the same sense of humor. The pranks are coming into full force and we're making music out there, writing songs. We watch movies. We're having a good time on the bus.”
Any plans to throw Paul [McDonald] an Idol bachelor party before you separate in the fall?
“Oh right! I know, I know. We haven't thought about that!”
The tour is going overseas soon. Is this the biggest trip you've taken? “It's a huge trip for me. I've gone over the pond once before, but this is going to be an 18-hour plane ride, so it's going to be huge. We're definitely looking forward to going out to the Philippines and having a good time out there. They've gone on Twitter and have been saying how excited they are so we're looking forward to it.”
Who is your dream duet partner?
“Maybe someone classic like Loretta Lynne. That would be really fun. I was watching some of her videos on YouTube from the Grand Ole Opry yesterday before the show. She's definitely a legend.”