Garner native Scotty McCreery went from being a Lowes Foods’ bagger with a dream to a singer and songwriter all by the age of 22 after winning the 10th season of the popular television show “American Idol” in 2011.
Five years later, McCreery is set to perform at the show’s three-night grand finale, which kicks off on April 5. He has sold more than 2.5 million albums since then, featuring hits such as “Feelin’ It” and “See You Tonight.”
As the award-winning artist gets ready to say goodbye to the platform that gave him his start in the music wold, he is working on a few other projects, including his first book, “Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream,” which is set to be released on May 3.
On Tuesday, McCreery stopped in Cary to talk with about 400 Triangle residents about how he takes care of his voice as part of Duke Voice Care Center’s 10th World Voice Day Celebration at the Cary Arts Center.
The Cary News sat down with McCreery during his visit. He talked about his new book, his feelings about “American Idol” ending its 15-year run and his next album, which he hopes to release this year:
You’re releasing your first book, “Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream,” on May 3. Tell me about it.
My goodness, I’m 22 writing a book. You know they advertise it as an autobiography. I like the word travelogue though because I’m still kind of young to be writing that. I got a lot of years left, Lord willing. It’s just experiences: where I’ve been, places I’ve seen, people I’ve met, the highs and the lows. We’ve been all over. So just the experiences and what I’ve learned from them. I’m excited about it.
What do you hope to accomplish with your first book?
Hopefully to just inspire the folks out there and let them see my story. Hopefully some things I’ve been through, folks can relate to and pick up how I got through it or what I did in certain situations. I hope it’s a good read for folks, and they get a little something out of it they can put in their own lives.
Do you have any stories you can share from it?
It’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff from “(American) Idol,” whether it be stories about Jennifer Lopez and my Puerto Rican grandmother or me getting robbed. That was one of the lows. The highs definitely outweigh the lows but there have been a few – Cinco de Mayo 2014. We had a long night. Just me and the fellas watching “Gladiator,” (there was) a knock on the door, thought it was a neighbor. Opened up, and it was not a neighbor. It was four armed guys coming in to take wallets and phones and all sorts of stuff. That was a little bit of a shake-up that night. The good news is we’re all still alive and well, but it definitely puts it into perspective.
You’ve been writing music for a long time, but you really came out as a professional songwriter on your last album. Will we see more of the same on the next one?
Yeah, a lot more. My first record was none. We kind of did that record in two months, which was kind of wild. The next record, I wanted to dive in some and so I started writing with different folks. You know, I wrote as a kid, a lot of Taylor Swift break-up songs, but nothing really serious. So just wanted to try my hand at it and really loved it. My first co-write I put out was my biggest hit to date so that worked out well for us. So far out of the 10 we recorded for this album, half of them are co-writes so it’s even more than the last one.
What will we see in the songs you’ve already written?
For me, it’s a lot of personal stuff. I draw from my life and what I’ve been through. You can pull stuff from your imagination, but I prefer to write real-life stuff, kind of old school. I’m an old-school guy so it’s kind of throwing it back a little more traditional country but still current. There was a song we played tonight, “Five More Minutes,” that takes you through life and those moments you just wish you could re-live and go back and see somebody or anything like that. Just real-life experiences that most folks can relate to.
Will it be released this year?
Hopefully, hopefully. I’d have it out yesterday if I could. It’s just not always up to me.
You parted ways with your record label, Mercury Nashville, earlier this year. Will that change anything for you or impact the release of your next album?
Yeah, it will. That’s kind of the weirdness about this record. It’s like we have it, but it’s just business decisions. We’ve got some opportunities in front of us and just kind of figuring out when and where is the best fit for me moving forward. But hopefully in the coming weeks, that should all be resolved.
The “American Idol” grand finale is coming up, and you’ll be performing. How are you feeling about the show’s final days and what it meant to you?
It meant a lot to me. It meant a lot to a lot of people. It introduced us to some of the world’s biggest superstars, and it’s really changed pop culture. It’s cool to be a part of what that show was, a small part of that show. Sad to see it go, but I look at it more as a celebration of the 15 years it had. I mean no show gets 15 years nowadays on TV. It’s something to be proud of for them. Definitely just going to try to carry on that torch with me as we go.
On top of all that, you’ll be touring frequently in 2016. How do you balance all of that while still trying to stay that same boy next door, Garner native that you’ve always been?
It was tough. I think the part that helped me stay that boy next door I guess was the fact that I did do college and didn’t just dive 100 percent into just the music. You know I was giving 100 percent, but it’s just like country music touring is mainly Thursday through Saturday, Sunday anyway. So Monday through Wednesday it felt like I should go back and keep my feet somewhat on the ground as far as being around friends I grew up with and family. I think that helped me keep my head on straight because it’s a crazy world out there. I mean you see a lot of crazy stuff so it definitely helped me keep my feet on the ground, being at school with my friends and family.
With so many different projects ahead of you this year, what are you most excited about?
Hopefully new music. Just kind of getting that new record out hopefully this year. We’ll have a single out pretty soon I would imagine.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon