Scotty McCreery on the ACM Awards red carpet

Scotty McCreery Reflects on Winning 'American Idol' at 17: 'I Had to Grow Up Quick'


On a new episode of the docuseries CMT Stages, Scotty McCreery sprinkles in some personal and career introspection amid acoustic covers of three of his best-loved hits: "It Matters to Her," "Damn Strait" and "Five More Minutes." To paint a warts-and-all picture of his path to five straight No. 1s, he revisits "Southern Belle," a 2015 single that's poor chart performance got him dropped by Mercury Nashville.

McCreery got candid about his 2011 American Idol win and how surreal it was to perform a hometown show with Josh Turner during the season to a crowd of 30,000. From there, the ride got wilder, with 17-year-old McCreery attending high school on weekdays and touring with Brad Paisley on weekends.

"I got to Nashville and I had to grow up quick," McCreery shared. "I mean, I got started in this business so young. At 17, sitting there at the end of a business table with, you know, 30 executives, and you're having to make all these big decisions. I think I'm better for it now. It taught me a lot -- about the business, about who to trust, about all sorts of stuff. I'm thankful for that."

After "Southern Belle," McCreery's mainstream trajectory seemed less like that of Carrie Underwood and more like those of the various singing competition winners in the "where are they now?" file.


"There was a lot that went into getting us to this point and a lot of hurdles to overcome," he said, referencing his success since his debut for label home Thirty Tigers, 2017's "Five More Minutes." "Especially after 2015 and 2016. Most folks don't really come back from that. So I'm really proud that we did, and have come back stronger than ever before."

A song inspired by McCreery's grandfather, "Five More Minutes" was the right single at the right time to rejuvenate a still-promising career. It became the first of the singer-songwriter's five straight country radio chart-toppers.

"If I'm going to bet on a song to kind of save my career, it's going to be this song," he added.

Such success hasn't made McCreery complacent.


"If somebody would've told me back in 2011, 'Hey man, in 2023 you're going to have five straight No. 1s,' I would've signed up for that in a heartbeat," he said. "Am I where I want be? No. I want to continue to grow, continue to set the bar higher for myself."

CMT Stages: Scotty McCreery debuts tonight (May 3) via CMT's Facebook and YouTube channels.

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