Garner teen takes 'Idol' stage

Posted February 16, 2011 10:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2011 7:49 a.m. EST

— When Garner's Scotty McCreery first stepped in front of the "American Idol" judges, he appeared calm and confident. The 17-year-old was anything but. 

"I was a bundle of nerves inside, but I tell you what, in the moment, you're just there," McCreery told WRAL News. 

The Garner Magnet High School student got praise from the judges during his audition in Milwaukee after singing Josh Turner's "Your Man" and Travis Tritt's "Put Some Drive in Your County." 

The decision to sing a song by Tritt was easy after he found out from his mother's co-worker that judge Randy Jackson produced a collection of songs for the country superstar. 

McCreery said he hoped to "butter" up the judges by singing something from Tritt.  His audition was so good that he didn't need to.

Following his performance, judge Steven Tyler let loose a spirited comment that was partially censored. 

"I didn't know what to say when Steven made that little remark. I just kind of stood there and smiled. I had never heard that remark before. It was funny," McCreery said. 

McCreery was handed a golden ticket to Hollywood, where he is currently facing off with talented singers from across the country, all hoping to make it to the top 20. 

The first time he took the stage in Hollywood, McCreery said, he wasn't sure exactly what the judges were saying about his performance because their microphones were turned off. 

"You can't hear what the judges are saying, so you're always kind of left there wondering, you know, 'Did I do good enough? Am I still going to be in it tomorrow?'" he said. 

He finally heard their comments when he saw the show on TV. 

"It's pretty crazy to hear what they were saying, especially after even my initial audition in Milwaukee," he said. "They said, 'He could have a long career,' and Jennifer (Lopez) said, 'He could be legendary.'" 

The Hollywood rounds of the show were filmed earlier this year, and although McCreery knows how he fared there, he can't comment. 

"Out in Hollywood, we were all family," he said. "We know we're kind of against each other, but we don't think that way." 

So far, McCreery said what you see on TV is accurate about what happened in Hollywood – with one exception. During last Thursday's episode, McCreery was shown on camera saying he is from Raleigh, not Garner. 

"I said I was from Raleigh, but I said I was from Garner after that. They just didn't show it. So, I'm sorry, but I'm a Garner boy," he said. 

As a child growing up in Garner, McCreery loved to entertain people. He would pretend to be Elvis and put on shows on the school bus for friends.

McCreery said what makes him unique is that he is normal.

"I've grown up playing baseball. I'm an honor roll student in high school. I'm just a normal kid. There's nothing too big about me," he said.

Baseball is a big part of McCreery's life. He is a pitcher for his high school team. 

"There's no other feeling than getting up there and striking somebody out, walking off the field knowing you've done something good – except for winning 'American Idol,'" he said. 

McCreery will find out next week if he has made it to the top 20 on the show. If he has, he will be relying on viewer votes to keep him in the running. 

"Winning 'American Idol' would be great, but just to get into the industry and to be a part of the music industry and be in Nashville and sing with the greats – that's a dream," he said. 

Right now, McCreery is dealing with fame. 

"Coming home, it's been a wild ride. It's getting to that point where going out in public, I'm having to sign autographs and take pictures," he said. "I walked into McDonald's today, and I couldn't get out of there without taking three or four pictures with little girls and signing their receipts or something. But, I mean, it's cool. I appreciate that they feel like they would like to get my autograph."

While he is single, McCreery said he is open to falling in love with "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez, who seemed smitten with the teen after his audition. 

"She wants to fall in love with me. That's fine with me. She's beautiful. It's cool," he said.