Country singer Scotty McCreery’s honors range from “American Idol” winner to three platinum singles to being named Country Music’s Hottest Bachelor.
But the award he received Tuesday night holds special appeal for the North Carolina native: the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award.
It was presented at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., by fellow North Carolina country singer Charlie Daniels. Both Daniels, a past Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipient himself, and McCreery performed at the Opry on Tuesday night.
“It’s a great feeling to know that my state is proud of me and has recognized me,” McCreery said. “Having it presented to me here at the Grand Ole Opry, which is my favorite stage to perform on, is fantastic. ... This is a memory I will treasure.”
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The Order of the Long Leaf Pine has been presented to numerous North Carolinians over the years, including fellow singers Shirley Caesar, Ronnie Milsap, Earl Scruggs, Randy Travis and Doc Watson.
The honor is conferred by the governor. McCreery was recommended by former Gov. Pat McCrory before he left office earlier this year.
McCreery, who grew up in Garner, was named the winner of “Idol,” the popular Fox TV singing competition, in 2011. He then became both the first country artist and the youngest male artist to debut his first studio album at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. He’s had two Top 10 country hits – “Feelin’ It” and “See You Tonight.”
While pursuing his music career, McCreery has attended N.C. State University in Raleigh.
McCreery released a book about his journey, “Go Big or Go Home,” last year. He is planning to release new music this year.