Scotty McCreery Talks Fatherhood, ‘Idol’ and His New Hit ‘Cab in a Solo’

When country star Scotty McCreery was 15 years old, before he broke through as the winner of season 10 of American Idol thanks to his smooth country singing voice, his parents forged his name on an application to a hyper-local singing competition, Clayton Idol, in his home state of North Carolina. Perhaps to no one’s surprise, the teenage McCreery won that competition, even if he didn’t originally want to participate, due to nerves and stage freight. Thankfully, though, for him, his parents were supportive of his talents. So much so that they pushed him past what he thought his limits were. Not long after winning Clayton Idol, a 16-year-old McCreery won American Idol, the second youngest ever to do so. Now, the platinum- and gold-selling recording artist and songwriter, who released his latest single this month, “Cab in a Solo,” is at the top of his game. But it took a little push.

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“I think confidence-wise it did,” says McCreery, when asked if winning Clayton Idol helped him win American Idol. “It was a little hometown thing. I didn’t want to do it. I was too nervous. But my folks forged my name on a piece of paper, so I was forced to do it. They signed me up!”

Winning the hometown competition told him that other people, strangers even, appreciated what he could do. That it just wasn’t kind encouragement from his parents. Yet, for McCreery, who is a new parent himself recently, benefited from his folks’ constant efforts at supporting their progeny. And while that might sound like an obvious thing—for parents to support their kids—it doesn’t happen as often as it should out in the wide world. “It didn’t matter what it was,” says the country singer. “My sister doing softball or tennis or me doing baseball or music.”

In high school, McCreery played sports and also acted in a school musical, a rendition of the classic, Bye Bye Birdie. While his friends, teammates and fellow actors might not have understood living in both worlds, his folks did. They told him, if he wanted to do it, then they’d support him. And it’s that environment that leads to someone becoming his or her best self. For McCreery growing up, music was always around. And he was always singing. He would wake people up playing his guitar at 2 a.m. Around 10-years-old, he began to write his own songs. Silly breakup tunes. But you have to get through the bad songs to find the good ones and McCreery had already started early.

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When it comes to country music, McCreery says he loves the genre’s instrumentation. The acoustic and steel guitars. He enjoys turning up the steel all the way up on his tracks. He also enjoys the storytelling aspect of the genre. For McCreery, there is a country song for any moment. Anything you go through, he says, there’s a tune. And the artist demonstrated the resonance of his favorite music when he appeared on Idol in 2011. He calls his time there a “whirlwind.” He existed in an environment that seemed pressure packed, with a big moment and big day around every corner.

“There was paparazzi waiting for us if we went to the gas station and the airports,” McCreery says. “But I think it helped me a lot. Just as far as taking that pressure and dealing with it and using it to fuel you. Not being afraid of the big moment.”

After winning the show, McCreery took special care to not let the joy and opportunities take over his life. He still wanted to know what it was like to be a normal teenager. So, perhaps to the chagrin of his media team, McCreery made sure to finish out his senior year in high school, toss out the idea of taking online classes and just live something of an average life. Monday through Wednesday, he would be part of the high school. Then Thursday through Sunday, he’d be on the road or in the studio.

“We made it work,” McCreery says. “It helped keep me grounded.”

After all, an artist has to have enough life experience to pull from in order to write songs. And with a voice like McCreery’s—low and slow, part-molasses, part-barrel-aged-whiskey—believe-ability regarding the subject matter is key. “I love songwriting,” he says. “I want to tell my story from a first-hand point of view.” Today, McCreery jots little notes all year long, song ideas, ideas for lyrics. Then when it comes time to write, he plucks from the list of things he’s built up over time. And it’s working! McCreery has won a CMT and an AMA award and earned millions of streams and fans.

“It means the world,” he says of his success. “I think I’d be writing these songs whether five people like it or 5,000. So, it means a lot when people tell you basically through listening to your songs or making a project gold or platinum, that, ‘Man, I appreciate your hard work. I relate to your music.’”

Today, along with music, McCreery is focused on his own burgeoning family. A new father, he is especially enjoying raising his young son, Avery. To see him grow into his own little person while also exhibiting traits from his parents here and there, it’s almost too much to bare. For an artist who has gotten to sing at the Super Bowl and World Series as well as in front of politicians and thousands of fans, being a dad is the tops. It’s why he works so hard, to provide a good life for his son. So hit songs like “Cab in a Solo,” which has become McCreery’s most-added song to country radio, can really help.

Now, McCreery, who is currently on the road on tour until December, is set to both release new music next year, a new album on the way, and then again hit the road in January. He calls himself a “road dog,” a role he’s been playing for over a dozen years now. It’s a grind, but it’s the way to achieving dream after dream. You have to push yourself if you want to achieve your biggest goals. That’s what his parents showed him as a teenager and that’s how he lives today. It’s the best part about his chosen career. One he can go back to again and again.

“Music is always there for you,” McCreery says. “You can always turn on the radio or pick up your phone and play a song. There’s something for whatever mood you’re in. It can lift your spirit up no matter how you’re feeling. It’s special.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Ray/Courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media

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