Garner, N.C. — A little more than two years after he won "American Idol" and on the day after his 20th birthday, Scotty McCreery was back in Garner, taking a break with family and preparing for a pair of concerts at the NC State Fair.
His second studio album goes on sale next week, and he'll debut a new show for his hometown fans Oct. 21 and 22 at the J.S. Dorton Arena.
The country singer and college student said he spends more time in Raleigh, where he is a sophomore at North Carolina State University, than in Garner.
" I love getting out on the road," McCreery said Thursday. "That's probably my favorite part of all this – just seeing the fans. It's a different crowd every night, same show, different crowd."
His concerts at the fair will be an all-new show, featuring songs from his new album, "See You Tonight.
He co-wrote five songs on the album, including the title track.
"It's the first song I've written and released to the public. I've been writing songs since I was a kid, but this is the first one I've put out," he said.
McCreery keeps producing new music and touring, hoping to turn his early success into a sustainable career.
"I think we've done a pretty good job of making people know that we're here to stay and making people know that I'm a legitimate artist and not just an 'Idol,'" he said.
"There's a lot of research in radio, and the song "See You Tonight" is up there in the research so it's positive. Everything is positive," he said.
Also looking up is his education. McCreery says his professors don't give him any breaks, and other students treat him like a regular guy on campus.
"I want to be embraced in the whole university aspect and the whole lifestyle around it, and being a student is the number one thing," he said.
McCreery enjoys being a fan of Wolfpack athletic teams and says supporting his university is a big deal.
As he balances school and success, he uses Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with friends, family and fans.
"We can sit there and every day communicate with the fans. They don't just see me at a show. They don't just see me on TV. They get to talk to me one-on-one, legitimately," he said.