Friday, January 24, 2014

'American Idol' winner Scotty McCreery to hit the Paramount

By Derek Halsey
Scotty McCreery was all of 17 years-old when he won the "American Idol" TV show competition in 2010.
A native of Garner, N.C., a small town outside of Raleigh, McCreery's quick rise to fame led to his first album selling more than one million copies in the first 13 weeks after it was released.
Soon, McCreery was singing for presidents, at World Series games and more. Still, he was determined to stay grounded and after he finished high school, McCreery enrolled in North Carolina State University, where he is still a student.
As McCreery arrives in Ashland to sing at the Paramount Arts Center today, Jan. 24, he will be performing songs from his third album "See You Tonight." Now 20 years of age, this new recording showcases McCreery in a different, more grown-up way.
The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets range from $30 to $40. The Paramount Arts Center is located at 1300 Winchester Ave., in Ashland. More information can be found at and 606-324-3175.
"I was young when I made that first record, so we were still kind of learning everything then," said McCreery. "This time, we've been around the game for a few years now and I've learned more about myself as an artist and a person. I think that comes through in the songs and in the production of this record. If you look at it, it is just a gap of a few years, if you look at when we made the first one until now. But, going to college opens up your eyes to a lot of stuff and you get out here and you learn a lot about yourself. So, I'd say it is a pretty significant jump."
One of the standout cuts on "See You Tonight" is the song "Carolina Moon," which features the vocals of the Grammy-winning Alison Krauss.
"That was pretty special to me," said McCreery. "That is probably my favorite song on the record. I remember when I first heard that song, Jon Randall pitched it to me and I thought, 'What a beautiful song.' It fits me perfectly, being from Carolina and the love I've got for Carolina. I met with my producer Frank Rogers and said, 'I think this song would be awesome to do, and I think it would be more incredible if we could get someone like Alison Krauss on it.' I got lucky because Frank also produces Brad Paisley, so he worked on 'Whiskey Lullaby' with Brad and Alison. He already had that connection. She was glad to do it and it was a special moment."
Winning "American Idol" was a whirlwind, as one would expect. Fame came quick for the teenage McCreery.
"We had just finished up 'American Idol,' and the day after I won Idol I had to fly back home because I had an English test," said McCreery. "To pass the course, I had to be present there at the school. We got back about midnight. We took a late flight. I hadn't driven (a car) in about five or six months because I was out there in California and I couldn't drive a rental car. So, we pulled over onto the side of the road and my Dad let me drive the rest of the way back home. It wasn't two minutes after I started driving when my song came on the radio and I was going nuts. It was pretty special."
McCreery doesn't seem like a young man who will forget his roots, and that plays into his enjoyment of playing the smaller towns of America.
"I love it," said McCreery. "These are the kind of folks that I can relate to pretty well. You can tell that they are big country music fans and they are really loyal. It is cool to go to their place instead of making them drive hours and hours to go and see us in a big city."
McCreery has put a live band together that he is very happy with, and he is looking forward to having some fun with the audience.
"A lot of these guys in the band have been with me from the very beginning," said McCreery. "That's kind of rare, so I'm proud to still have those guys backing me up. They are a great group of guys and they are good players and good pickers and a great sounding bunch. We're always trying to fine tune things and make things better. They are a top-notch band. We just have a good time. I go up there and have fun. We play a lot of my stuff, but we also play a lot of covers. I'm a big old school country music kind of guy, so we'll throw in some Hank Williams and Johnny Cash and Elvis, and even a little bit of Garth in there. So, we play a lot of the music of the guys that influenced me when I was growing up. You'll hear that, but you'll also hear a lot of my new stuff and old stuff. We're always out there having fun and changing things up, so you never know what you're going to get. Come on out. It's going to be wild. Sing some songs and enjoy yourselves."

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