Friday, July 13, 2012

Scotty McCreery's fame doesn't control him

At 17, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Bob Feller spent the summer pitching in the big leagues, winning five games. He even struck out 17 Philadelphia Athletics one memorable afternoon, which made it all the more difficult to return to high school that fall.

“I spent most of my senior year staring out the window, dreaming about what lay ahead,” Feller told me in 1993.

You'd think Scotty McCreery, the soulful country singer who finished first on “American Idol” in 2011, would have felt the same way. McCreery was only 16 when he became a singing sensation, but the affable North Carolina teenager said he looked forward to returning to Garner Magnet High School for his senior year.

“I have a lot of good friends from school, and I couldn't wait to see everyone again,” McCreery said by phone.

Never mind that he'd just finished touring with Brad Paisley, had signed a $250,000 contract with Mercury Nashville, cut an album that went platinum and even sang the national anthem before Game 1 of the World Series.

McCreery, who will perform Friday at 8:15 p.m. at Chautauqua Institution, said: “What a thrill it was to meet some of the players.”

McCreery is himself a baseball player who started on Garner's team this season, which advanced deep into the playoffs.

In August, he'll enroll at North Carolina State University and major in public relations. With his easygoing personality and self-​deprecating wit, that should be a simple challenge, even with a touring schedule that will likely keep him on the road up to three days a week.

He'll be running to a private jet the moment class lets out, but you can hear the excitement in McCreery's voice as he plans for college.

He talks about the house near campus he'll share with a fellow student. “We have a few signs and a big deer head to hang on the wall in the living room,” he said, sounding like a typical teenager.

But McCreery is anything but typical. He's already had a world of experience, starting with his long run on “Idol,” which ended with his victory over another country singer, 16-year-old Lauren Alaina.

Then it was on to the late-night TV talk shows where he sang such hits as “The Trouble with Girls” and “I Love You This Big.” He scored at several awards shows where he charmed reporters with his “aw shucks” demeanor.

Fame is fickle, however, and McCreery was soon catching flak for mispronouncing words of the national anthem and for poor lip-syncing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“People will say what they want,” McCreery said. “I practiced the anthem for days, and it came off pretty well. But I'm from North Carolina and maybe the accent is a bit thick for some folks,” he said with good humor.

McCreery, who seems to have the perfect disposition for a country singer, said he understands the need to connect with fans. “The stars who reach out and build a fan base, person by person, are the ones who last,” he said.

“After all the buzz dies down and things kind of even out, as they always do, you still have that corps of fans who will stay with you through thick and thin.”

For a kid, McCreery sounds pretty grown up — especially when he lets loose with that deep, rich baritone.


  1. I will be here for you thru thick or thin Scotty!! You're awesome.......sincerely, Patiently waiting on 2nd record. ;-)

  2. I'll be a Scotty fan as long as I breathe! Just can't listen to him enough whether he is singing or doing an interview. So deserving of all the fame that he receives. God will bless him greatly!!!


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