So how does that make Scotty McCreery, the 2011 “Idol” feel?
Pretty good, actually. “I’m not the American Idol,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m an American Idol, and that’s fine.”
“I’d be told that once a new Idol was named, the previous Idol supposedly has to fight a bit more for attention,” continues McCreery. “I don’t see it. I feel like I’m still on the ride.”
McCreery – who, at age 17, became the youngest Idol to date – is now on solo tour across the country. His next stop will be the Mayo Performing Arts Center this Saturday.
Previous winners, immediately after their “coronations,” have been part of the summer-long “American Idol” tour with the runners-up, immediately followed by a solo tour. But last fall, McCreery opted to return home to Garner, N.C., so he could finish high school.
“That was important to me,” he says. Even when he had the opportunity to go on tour with country star Brad Paisley, he was able to arrange the schedule. He could attend school from Monday through Thursday, leaving him with long weeks for the Paisley tour.
McCreery admits that the past 14 months have been much more than he expected when he auditioned for the 10th season of “American Idol.” “I was just hoping I’d get past the first arena audition, so I’d have a great story to tell my friends,” he says.
Even before the show, however, McCreery had loved music. From his father, who was half-Puerto Rican, he was exposed to Latin rhythms. His mother’s side of the family introduced him to classic country and rockabilly.
“Elvis Presley was my guy,” he says. “The rest of my friends listened to ’N Sync. My (maternal) grandmother gave me a book, ‘How to Be Like Elvis.’ I even dressed like him for Halloween when I was 8.”
McCreery started singing at a young age. He sang at his 8th grade promotion ceremony, and in high school he toured the country with a high school vocal group called Die Meistersingers.