Think your family started getting ready for Christmas awfully early this year? Theyve got nothing on Scotty McCreery.
The Garner native and 2011 American Idol winner released his Christmas With Scotty McCreery CD more than seven weeks ago.
Ive been in the Christmas spirit since July, because thats when we had to start recording this thing, said McCreery, 19. Its been Christmas Year, I guess, for me.
And its not over yet. Hes due for two appearances on ABCs Good Morning America this month; a presenting gig at the American Country Awards Monday on Fox; TNTs Christmas in Washington special (to be filmed Sunday for broadcast on Dec. 21); and his own holiday special, Christmas With Scotty McCreery & Friends, which airs at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday on the GAC network.
We caught up with North Carolinas most famous teen during a break from classes at N.C. State (where he is a freshman) to talk about being a college student, the gold-certified album and his favorite holiday.
Q. Has it been difficult balancing the promotion of the album with your studies?
Yeah, it has. I probably came into this thinking it might be a little bit easier, since high school worked out so well for me. But this is what I signed up for, and Im enjoying it. But it is definitely tough.
Q. Have you gotten involved with student life in Raleigh?
Yeah, Ive been out to a few football games, and basketball seasons looking pretty good this year. The only thing outside of class that Ive been able to do here at State since Im only here Monday-Wednesday, and then I head out on Thursday for the weekend is intramural flag football on Tuesday nights. Me and the boys we came in second place in the whole thing. We had a pretty good season. Couldnt get it done in the championship game, but its all right.
Q. Did you have any reservations about making your second album a holiday album? (His debut, Clear as Day, topped the Billboard charts in 2011.)
No, I was actually the one that was pushing it and wanting to do it. A lot of country artists wait many years in their career before they do it, but itd been a year since Clear as Day, and it was just an easy way for me to get out there and keep my music present. Weve got a couple original songs in there, too (Christmas in Heaven and Christmas Comin Round Again), that people are digging.
Q. What went into coming up with those?
Well for me, if youre gonna put an original song on the album, my thought process was, it either has to make you get up and dance and feel holly jolly, or its got to have a strong message to it. Both these songs got sent to me by people in Nashville, and they just had strong, strong messages to them about what Christmas means. It didnt take me long to decide that they were gonna be on the album.
Q. How did you select which classic Christmas songs you wanted to cover?
That was the toughest part of making the album, since there are so many of them. Theres thousands of them. But I had a few in mind that I was definitely gonna do. Holly Jolly Christmas and The Christmas Song. And I definitely wanted to have an Elvis song on there. I had it down to Santa Claus Is Back in Town and Blue Christmas, and we decided on Santa Claus. But I sat down with a pencil and paper and really just started writing down songs and scratching off stuff. Eventually, we had a really messy sheet of paper, but we had (picked the) 11 songs on the album. So it worked out.
Q. What were Christmases like in your household while you were growing up?
Christmas was always probably the biggest holiday for the McCreery household out of all of them. Wed always have the family around. We have family scattered all over the place in North Carolina, and we have them in different states as well, so this was the one time of the year that everybody would come together.
Christmas, of course, was about Santa Claus and getting gifts and giving gifts, but it was also about Christ and Christs birth, and we were focusing in on that.
What we normally do is well trade off which grandparents to go to between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (His fathers parents are in the Pinehurst area where he will spend Christmas this year and his mothers are in Elizabeth City on the coast.)
Q. Does your family have any holiday traditions?
Nothing too out of the ordinary. We didnt do it this year just because things are so busy, but wed always hop in the car and go around town and look at the Christmas lights. Theres a couple spots in Garner where it gets pretty elaborate.
Q. How is your family celebrating this year?
Were obviously gonna go see the family and go to the grandparents, but (otherwise) were gonna try and stay home just because Ive been on the road all year and weve been touring and weve been all over the daggone country.
Q. Have you gotten used to traveling?
Yeah, I love it. Its really cool. A lot of times we have to travel through the night, so we dont get to see the countryside, but the last few trips weve gotten the chance to travel during the day. Im loving it, because I get the best of both worlds: Ive got my touring life and the music, and then Ive got my home life back here at college. So its tough, but its enjoyable for me.