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Scotty McCreery Interview: Young Star Talks New Christmas Album and Balancing Fame With College

Scotty McCreery
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Scotty McCreery is in a good spot right now. The 19-year-old fast-rising country star’s debut album ‘Clear as Day’ went platinum, no doubt bolstered by the burst of publicity he received after winning ‘American Idol’ in 2011. In the last year, he has finished high school, started college, and toured all over the country, and he recently released his first Christmas album, the aptly-titled ‘Christmas With Scotty McCreery.’

McCreery spoke to Taste of Country recently about his Christmas album, what he wants to do differently with his upcoming second studio record, how he balances his college classes and career and more. The deep-voiced singer’s success and earnest manner belie his youth, but despite an innate maturity beyond his years, McCreery acknowledged that in some ways he’s just a normal kid, saying, “Eventually, I’m gonna mess up.”

ToC: What makes a Christmas album so important to you right now? The industry’s generally accepted wisdom would say that it’s a bit early in your career for an album like that.

Scotty McCreery: It’s definitely early for a Christmas album in the country music world. A lot of people wait until they’re far down in their careers. For me, it’s just kind of another step where I’m growing as an artist. We talked about this for about a year now, and we finally got the okay to do it from the label, and everybody supports that. I was pumped up when they said yes.

I think it’s a good move. I think I’m going to have a lot more time to grow and take my time with my true sophomore album after ‘Clear as Day’ and really find the right songs. You know, in the last year I’ve won awards, I’ve had sold out shows across the country, but I haven’t had that big radio hit yet. So that’s my mission right now. So I’ve got to go out there and try to find it.

You’ve said that your family is steeped in a tradition of Christmas music. Have you ever been door-to-door caroling?

I’ve done it with my church a couple of times when I was younger. I haven’t done it in years. But we’d go as a youth group, we’d go caroling around neighborhoods close to the church, for sure. Definitely.

Your mom and dad can also sing. Any chance of them maybe joining you on stage at some point for a Christmas song?

That could happen. It’s definitely in the realm of possibility. You know, the whole family — even my sister — likes to sing, so that’s definitely in the possibilities. It would have been great to have them on the record if we’d have just had a little more time, we could have thought about it a little more.

Which song from the new album do you feel the most personal connection with, and why?

I would say ‘Christmas in Heaven,’ just because I was thinking about my grandfather, who passed on a few years ago. And I think a lot of people are going to have a personal connection with that song — really be touched by it, hopefully.

The other one is probably ‘Santa Claus Is Back in Town,’ just because I was such a huge Elvis fanatic when I was growing up, and I listened to his music and was influenced by him. So it was really cool for me to be able to have an Elvis Presley song on this record.

How is college going for you?

So far, so good. I’m enjoying it. For me, my number one priority always has to be the music, and I’m going to work school around my music — not music around my school. And so far I’ve got classes Monday and Wednesday, and then Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday I’m hitting the road, and it’s working out great.

Is balancing classes and your music career easier or more difficult than you might have figured?

So far, it’s not been that difficult. I’m not exactly taking Advanced Chemistry right now. So far, it hasn’t been horrible. I’ve just had to have better time management on the road. Instead of sitting down for an hour playing Xbox, I have to sit down and study or write a paper. That just comes with growing up and maturing. As long as I can do that, I think this whole college thing is going to be easy. If I just wait until 5AM when something’s due in the morning, then that might kill me, but we’ll see.

Have any of your classmates or professors asked you for an autograph?

I’ve had classmates ask, but at school I try and stay away from that. Not so much because I don’t want to — I mean, I’d love to sit there and sign for everybody, but when I’m at school, I’m a student, and I don’t want to take away from anybody else’s education, and I don’t want to take away from mine. I’m not going there to be Scotty McCreery the celebrity in my math class. I’m going there to actually learn the course and get a degree. So they’ve asked, and I respect that, but for the most part I try and stay away from that at college.

What kind of a degree are you shooting for ultimately?

Right now I’m in the major of communications with a focus on public relations, but I’ll probably switch that to media. For me, a lot of times in the media I’m on this side of things; I’m being interviewed, or I’m seeing it from this side of things. So it’d be cool for me to see the other side of things, understand how it works. I think it’ll give me an interesting perspective.

For me it’s not one hundred percent just about the degree. It’s about actually being at college, having the experience, learning about life and growing up. I’m 19 right now. I still want to have these years. I still have relationships back home, and I’m loving every minute of it on the road, but I’m not gonna totally forget about that. It’s important to me.

Continue Reading: Scotty Talks 'The College Experience' >>

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