‘American Idol,’ ‘The Voice’ bits: Scotty McCreery’s new book & interview, Jordan Smith tour

attends the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 3, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Scotty McCreery attends the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 3, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, May 5, 2016

Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery is all of 22 and he’s written a book about himself called “Go Big or Go Home.”

In an interview Wednesday, Scotty said he understands if some folks might find this a bit unnecessary given his age.

But believe it or not, a publisher actually approached him three years ago to do a book when he was just 19. He didn’t feel at the time he had enough life experience to merit one. Now given what he’s been able to do and see over over the past six years since “Idol” plucked him from obscurity, he felt he could now provide enough material to merit a book. (Buy a copy here.)

“I thought we could do this as long as we don’t present it as a memoir,” Scotty said. (Stuck in traffic in Peachtree Corners at our appointed time to talk, I pulled over to talk to him coincidentally in the parking lot of his favorite fast-food joint: Bojangles.) “It’s more like a travelogue of experiences and places and things I’ve learned.”

Scotty McCreery go big

I’ve talked to Scotty a few times over the years since he won in 2011. He is not overly gabby but always polite. It’s clear why he won season 10. He’s confident and competitive but humble. He’s ruggedly handsome but approachable. He has that amazingly resonant, deep voice. He works hard and cares about his craft. And he is off-the-charts likable and authentic.

This is not a book jam packed with gossip. His life is not filled with abuse, heartbreak or jail time. Instead, there are odes to his hometown Garner, N.C. and his love and devotion to baseball, family, God and his idol Elvis Presley.

“There are no skeletons in my closet,” he said. He’s young. Maybe later, right?

But there were a few anecdotes that “Idol” fans might find interesting.

While on “Idol,” he actually took a stand against mentor Jimmy Iovine and producer Nigel Lythgoe over a particular song: Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” For movie week, the bosses had picked the song from “Midnight Cowboy.” He had no issue with the song at first.

He sang a version in the studio for iTunes and everything seemed fine. Then two days before air time, the producers wanted him to talk about “Midnight Cowboy” on camera for context. He had no idea about the film so they told him: it’s an X-rated film about a male prostitute in New York City who becomes friends with a homeless con man.”

McCreery’s reaction: “Wait… what?”

He seriously thought they were joking but when he realized they weren’t, he decided to take a stand: no go with that song. When Iovine said it was too late to make a change, McCreery said he’d simply refuse to go on stage.

“Maybe it’s called strong-willed,” he wrote. “Or stubborn. I don’t have to call it anything except remaining true to myself.”

He told me the lesson he learned then was “stick to your guns if you believe in it.”

“Idol” brass ultimately relented. They brought him to the recording studio at the last second to sing “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait from “Pure Country.” A few weeks later, he was the winner.

I asked him if he ever bothered to watch “Midnight Cowboy” after the fact. Nope.

He also described his efforts to finish high school while promoting a new album and living the life of a celebrity.

“It was very Miley Cyrus/ Hannah Montana,” he said to me. “I had one life here and another life there.” He was able to attend high school Monday through Wednesday, then tour and promote his album Thursday through Sunday.

“That was a great year for me,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade that year for the world. I’m glad I went back and got those experiences with my friends. You can’t get those years back.”

During that year, he was able to sing at the World Series – even with a mic snafu captured here, which he describes in his book:

He also writes about the robbery two years ago. He was hanging with friends at 2 a.m. watching “Gladiator.” Four men with guns barge in. He recounts how one of the robbers stuck a pistol against his forehead. “I’m thinking I’m going to die any second,” he wrote. Fortunately, the men didn’t recognize him or kidnap him. They just took his phone. Lesson: “Never, ever open your door at 2 a.m. for a stranger.”

He added to me: “Everyone is still alive and well. That’s what I’m thankful for.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Bucky Covington, Ace Young, Constantine Maroulis and Scotty McCreery perform onstage during FOX's "American Idol" Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 07: (L-R) Recording artists Bucky Covington, Ace Young, Constantine Maroulis and Scotty McCreery perform onstage during FOX’s “American Idol” Finale For The Farewell Season at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. at Dolby Theatre on April 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Scotty said he had a blast at the “Idol” series finale last month. Nine of the 11 season 10 finalists showed up (though not all of them ended up on stage.) The only no shows: Casey Abrams, who was in Europe, and Pia Toscano, who had a prior obligation she couldn’t get out of. “It was our last hurrah,” he said. “Like a big family reunion.”

Scotty said he got to speak briefly to Jennifer Lopez, who was a big supporter of his on the show. He said he told Lopez his Puerto Rican grandmother still talks about her all the time. (Scotty is quarter Hispanic.)

He enjoyed doing his little country medley early on, then snuck out into the audience to watch the rest. (The show didn’t guarantee him a seat, he said, but he said he pulled some strings.) Nigel, he noted, “is amazing. He put together a great show.”

Although Scotty hasn’t reached the heights of country fame like a Luke Bryan, he is still only 22 and developing as an artist. He has a lot more life to live. He still wants a No. 1 country single. He plans to be married with kids at some point. As he notes in his book, “All in due time and in God’s will.”

“I’ve been fortunate to accomplish a lot of my goals,” Scotty said to me. “I still have a lot more. Every day we’re trying to one up ourselves and see what we can do.”

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The favorite to take it all home: Jordan Smith. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

Jordan Smith is now touring off his “Voice” victory. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

“The Voice” season nine winner Jordan Smith is coming to Atlanta June 12 at the City Winery at the Ponce Cit Market.

 Tickets are not yet available. Keep your eye out on the City Winery web site.

Here are all the scheduled tour dates:

May 31: San Francisco, California – The ChapelJune 1: Los Angeles, California – The Lyric Theatre

June 4: Houston, Texas – Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center

June 6: Chicago, Illinois – City Winery

June 7: New York, New York – Highline Ballroom

June 8: Wilmington, Delaware – World Café Live

June 11: Boston, Massachusetts – Red Room @ Café 939

June 12: Atlanta, Georgia – City Winery

June 14: Alexandria, Virginia – The Birchmere

June 16: Lexington, Kentucky – The Lyric Theatre

June 18: Chattanooga, Tennessee – Tivoli Theatre

June 19, Knoxville, Tennessee – Bijou Theatre

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Kellie PIckler will appear on “Celebrity Family Feud” this summer on ABC. That is guaranteed hilarity!

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Clay in a future docuseries on Esquire Network. CREDIT; Esquire

Clay campaigning in 2014. CREDIT; Esquire

I mentioned Bojangles earlier. Apparently, while campaigning for a North Carolina House seat in 2014, Clay Aiken gained 30 pounds consuming way too much fast food, especially Bojangles. Details here.

Bojangles

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Adam Lambert is part of the Macy’s American Icons campaign:

 


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