Scotty McCreery has packed in more music, miles and homework in three years than most people do in a lifetime.
Since being crowned the winner of the 10th season of “American Idol” in 2011, McCreery has graduated from high school, released three albums, crisscrossed the country on tours and enrolled in college. All that and the North Carolina native is still only 20 years old.
“Some days it feels like yesterday, some days it feels like 10 years ago,” McCreery said in an interview with The Bee from the road. “It has been a fun three years, I can say that. We packed a lot of fun into it. We packed a big punch for a few years.”
In the midst of making his presence felt as a force to be reckoned with on the country music scene, McCreery enrolled in college. Because releasing two chart-topping country albums and one not-shabby No. 2 Christmas album wasn’t quite enough work to pack into his day, apparently.
Last year, McCreery enrolled at North Carolina State and is pursuing a major in media communications. These days, promoting his latest album, “See You Tonight,” and handling his first solo headlining tour have made him reduce his course load to part time. But he said he is still “chugging along” and doing his classes online.
“I had grandparents that didn’t have the chance to go to college, and they preached to me about education,” he said. “Also, I enrolled for the experience of being 20 and wanting to be around the college atmosphere while I can. When I’m 40, I don’t want to have regrets.”
Still, he admits that the balancing act between being a country star and a college student can be tricky.
“To me, music has to be the No. 1 priority, which is backwards for most kids. School is their first priority,” he said.
The one priority McCreery never has wavered on is his faith. The singer has been very vocal about his beliefs and said they have helped him navigate the rise to sudden fame.
“I wouldn’t be here without it. It was my rock when things got crazy out there in L.A. and still crazy on the road. The music industry can be a little weird sometimes,” he said. “So faith is a big part of my life and luckily I have a bunch of guys on the road with me with the same values and thoughts on life.”
The country star released his debut album, “Clear as Day,” five months after his “Idol” win. It went No. 1 on the Billboard Country and mainstream Billboard Hot 100 album charts and was certified platinum. The CD spawned Top 20 hits “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble With Girls.”
He followed that up in 2012 with the holiday album “Christmas With Scotty McCreery,” which went gold. Last October, he put out his sophomore studio release, “See You Tonight.” Its first single, the title track, hit No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Later this year, he plans to come off the road and start work on his third non-holiday album. It should be ready for release by the end of 2015.
In the end, he said he hopes to be among the handful of “American Idol” alumni who have been able to sustain success past their initial flash of reality stardom. But he is betting on the same things that got him to where he is now to help him along the way.
“There’s not really a magic formula to have success carry on like that,” he said. “Everyone works their tail off. It takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. I’ve been lucky so far. The fans have been great to me.”