Winning "American Idol" 2011 and launching a country music career didn't satisfy Scotty McCreery. The 18-year-old North Carolina native has his sights set on becoming one of the nation's most respected entertainers.
McCreery is in the midst of a busy summer playing and performing songs from his debut country album, "Clear as Day." He will perform in the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater on Friday at 8:15 p.m. Tickets, which start at $40, were still available at press time.
McCreery earned millions of fans while performing for a national TV audience. That support has carried over into his solo career.
Scotty McCreery, 2011 “American Idol” winner, will perform in Chautauqua Institution’s Amphitheater on Friday night. He’ll play songs from his debut country album, “Clear as Day.”
"It's incredible," McCreery told The Post-Journal. "It's one of those things you dream of but never expect to happen, especially this young. I'm taking it all in. I'm still trying to learn and just having fun with it right now."
McCreery has played several gigs with Brad Paisley and The Band Perry leading up to his solo shows. He has been taking some notes while watching the headliner night after night.
"I can't even tell you how great Brad is to watch every night and how good he is with the audience," McCreery said. "It's nice to see how he treats the people he tours with and the people who work with him, and how good he treats me and The Band Perry as opening acts. I've learned a lot just by watching him from a distance these past few months."
The teenager has also learned the ins and outs of performing in outdoor venues like the one he'll play in on Friday night.
"I think my first amphitheater shows were with Paisley, and at first it was a little different," McCreery said. "But I love getting outdoors in the fresh air. I like that element of it."
He'll play the majority of "Clear as Day" on Friday night and describes his music as "fun" and "upbeat" with a mix of old and contemporary influences.
A LIFELONG ENTERTAINER
McCreery has enjoyed being the center of attention since childhood, when he would entertain his family at the dinner table or try to be funny out in public. He grew up singing in church and listening to Elvis Presley.
His dream of becoming a nationally known performer came true last year, but McCreery believes he can become even more successful by attending college, which he will do this fall. He will attend North Carolina State University to study public relations and communications.
"I was always looking to go to college," McCreery said. "I didn't realize I'd be having a big old music career. College, I think, will just make me a more well-rounded artist and well-rounded person. I think that will give me a better sense of what I'm doing on the business side of the music business. (College is) not all about the math formulas and the English grammar. It's about becoming a lifelong learner and learning about yourself as a person."
McCreery plans to take classes early in the week while still making time for his music career. He'll play weekend shows this fall.
"I'm looking to go as far as I can," he said. "A few years down the road, I want to be up there with artists like Brad Paisley, or Carrie Underwood, who started on the same platform I did. I'd like to be up for Entertainer of the Year or something like that. I'm just looking forward to the hard work that goes into it in the years to come."
Regardless of whether he finds more success, McCreery knows he has millions of fans across the nation, and he's not afraid to tell them "thanks" when he's out on the road.
"They're the reason I'm here doing this because they voted me through," he said. "There has been an overwhelming amount of support from people buying the album, keeping up with me on Twitter and all of these crazy things. It's been great to have that because you need that in this kind of career. You need the people to want to be interested in you."
No matter where he ends up, McCreery will always be a North Carolina boy at heart.
"I've stayed true to myself, and I've stayed close to my friends and family back home," he said. "I haven't let the business take hold of me, while still being into it. I think it would've been easy to get all wrapped up into it, but I'm glad I kept one foot back at home with my family."
Visit chqtickets.com or call 357-6250 for more information.