Scotty stays grounded in 'American Idol' run
Posted May 14, 2011 1:34 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2011 8:03 a.m. EDT
Garner, N.C. — Garner teen Scotty McCreery says that four months in Hollywood on "American Idol" haven't changed him, but he's had a whirlwind education in the music industry – and wants to succeed in it even more.
"It's been a crazy ride for me, and I've just taken in every moment," McCreery, 17, said during a hometown celebrate in Garner Saturday.
"We have very few minutes to just sit back, chill and relax, because we're constantly working. But when we do, we always kind of pinch ourselves, 'Is this really happening?'"
Beginning as one singer among over 100,000 trying to make it on the reality show, McCreery has made it to the top three contestants.
"They're kind of giving us a 10-year education in about four months. I'm learning a lot about the music industry. I'm learning a lot about myself," he said. "I'm growing each and every day through this, and every day we learning something totally new."
On Saturday, amid his whirlwind of interviews and autographs, McCreery got a text telling him that next week he'll be performing Kenny Rogers' "She Believes in Me."
He doesn't rely on any superstitions or good luck charms to get him through the week.
"I just pray and just ask God that he uses me out there on stage," McCreery said. "I do everything for his glory, because he's the reason I'm still here."
The Garner high school baseball star has still embraced some changes. He's growing his hair out a bit and is getting used to wearing stage make-up.
"I had to sit in the chair for a while, and they were telling me, 'All the guys do it. Even the guys on ESPN,'" he recalled.
The "Idol" contestants are under pressure from week to week to deliver powerful performances, he said.
"We have to go out there and show off our vocal cords," he said. "We can go out there and sing a one-note song and have a ton of fun with it, but in the end, America wants to see what we can do as an artist."
The top three "Idol" finalists will prepare and sing three songs this week. McCreery said he's using the stress as a learning experience.
"People go out there and sing a concert with 30 songs, so it's just something we got to get used to," he said. "The stress, it just comes with the job description."
McCreery said he's intently aware that only two weeks of competition stand between him and winning "American Idol."
"I've worked so hard for it. ... Hopefully, it'll get me to the top," he said. "I'm going to give it my best shot and try to bring it back home to North Carolina."
He is determined not to let success go to his head. When his charter arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport late Friday, McCreery knelt to kiss the ground.
"I left Garner as Scotty, and I came back as Scotty," he said. "I guess the change is that more people know my name now."
For the thousands of fans who turned out in Raleigh and Garner Saturday, his down-to-earth manner and vocal Christian faith are part of his appeal.
Pvt. First Class John Ramirez, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, brought his fiance and 3-year-old daughter to see McCreery perform at Lake Benson Park. "I'm here to support them," he said of his girls.
“He’s our town hero,” exclaimed Larry Langworthy, a 51, who lives near the park and was in attendance Saturday.
Jean Creech, of Zebulon, was sitting on the ground reading a Sandra Brown book, killing time waiting for Scotty to arrive. “I’m gonna stand up and shout. I’m gonna try to get his attention,” she said.
'Idols' head to Raleigh on tour
"American Idol" fans lined up as early as 4 a.m. outside the RBC Center on Friday to buy tickets to the show's tour, which will feature McCreery.
The tour hits Raleigh on July 27.