American Idol’s latest country winner is taking life lessons from its first country winner. Naturally, we’re talking about Scotty McCreery and Carrie Underwood.
Underwood, as we all know, has become arguably the most successful of all the Idol winners. (Kelly Clarkson fans might say different, but that’s why we say “arguably”.) Her list of awards is too long to list here, but her most recent honors came this week at the American Country Awards at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. The fan-voted show honored Underwood with three awards (which come in the form of a customized Fender Telecaster guitar): Female Artist of the Year; Female Single of the Year and Female Video for “Mama’s Song”.
The event was McCreery’s first award show and he didn’t go home empty-handed. Fans voted him New Artist of the Year, choosing him over Thompson Square, The Band Perry, Jerrod Niemann and The Pistol Annies.
In the press room after getting his award, he seemed humbled by the win. “It’s incredible,” said McCreery. “It’s one of those things you dream of when you’re little. I just wanted to attend. I used to watch the shows thinking ‘I’d just like to be there one time’. And to actually win something and the first one to be a Telecaster. It don’t get much better than that.”
As for the fate of his first award, it’s definitely not going up on the wall. McCreery says he plans to literally play with his prize, but it might take a while. “I’m not hanging it up. I mean, how can you hang up a Telecaster? Hopefully my guitar player can teach me how to shred while we’re on the road. But it will take a few years probably.”
Now that he’s finding success beyond his win on Idol, he’s relying on the people around him to keep him grounded. The 18-year-old high school senior says it helps that his family and friends don’t treat him any differently. “I think if it was just me doin’ this it would be easy for me to start thinking ‘Oh, my goodness!’ and my head start swelling, but to get home and see my friends treat me the same. And Mama, Lord knows, if my head got anywhere bigger than this (holding his hands up to the sides of his head) she’d slap it out of me quick.”
It also helps to talk with someone has already been through what he’s currently experiencing. Thats’ where Carrie comes in. McCreery says they have talked a few times and has gotten a lot out of it: “When I have talked to her she’s always had great things to say and great advice. She’s been through the exact same thing as I have, going through Idol and moving on to country music. She kinda paved the way for me and some other country acts on the show, so it’s cool to hear her advice.
“She told me to stay the same and kinda the same thing that a lot of people say. But coming from somebody that’s been through it, it kinda means a lot more. Because they’re telling me it’s easy to change getting caught up in the business and getting caught up in the big Hollywood aspects and Nashville aspects. You know ‘I’m on TV’ and “Oh, that’s me!’. But she says if you stay the same and stay humble, then you never know what you can do.”
McCreery can also get in touch with Underwood if he wants, but don’t plan on him blowing up her phone with text messages any time soon. Just because he has her number, doesn’t mean he’s going to use it. It sounds like he’s not the only one. “She gives all the winners her number and she says nobody ever texts her. I guess I’m in the same boat,” said McCreery. Then he added respectfully, “I don’t want to bother her. She’s a busy girl.”
McCreery will be busy himself in the coming year. He’s planning on going to college, but first he and his family have to find a way to balance school and his career.
Plus, he’ll be going out on the road with The Band Perry in support of Brad Paisley’s “H2O II: Wetter and Wilder World Tour”. Until then he says he’s going to take some time off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.