Things were not going well for Scotty
McCreery in 2016. Despite winning the American Idol title
five years prior, the country star found himself in a rut.
"If I'm being honest, things sucked," the 25-year-old admitted to People
backstage before a show in Chicago. "2016 was a really rough year. I
was questioning a lot of stuff. I was looking for advice from
everybody. There was a light at the end of the tunnel but that light
felt really far away. It was a long ass tunnel, that's for sure."
But the North Carolina native isn't one to throw in the towel. "I could
either mope and pout or I could pick myself up by the bootstraps and
keep marching on," he recalled. "I chose the latter and I'm
definitely better for it now."
The next year, he released his
first No. 1 single, "Five More Minutes." In 2018, he dropped
a chart-topping album, Seasons Change, and as 2019 takes off,
his current single "This Is It" is also moving up the charts.
Scotty McCreery perform
'This Is It'
live on Fox & Friends -
the official music video for
McReery's 'Five More Minutes'
While success is great, what made
2018 the singer-songwriter's best year yet was his wedding. Over the
summer, McCreery married his longtime girlfriend, Gabi Dugal.
"2018 has been the greatest year of my life, especially because it's the
year I got to marry her," he gushed, while his wife sat next to him
on the couch. "She's incredible and we make a great team, and to be
able to go through life together is one of my biggest joys. She
always sees the best in people so it rubs off on me when I'm having
a down day. Just going home to her perks me up a little."
McCreery launched his Seasons Change Tour in November and will
continue touring the country in January. It makes its way to
Atlanta's Buckhead Theatre on January 17th.
"This Is It"
"I've lived a lot of life since my last record," says Scotty McCreery. "I moved out on my own, I travelled across the country and the world, I got engaged, I was even robbed at gunpoint. So I really wanted this album to show who Scotty is at 24, what's going on in my life, and I think we accomplished that. It is my most personal album yet."
With Seasons Change, McCreery takes a huge creative step forward,
co-writing all 11 songs on the album, and working with some of the finest songwriters in Nashville to express a wide range of emotions and
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McCreery - Season's Change - In
summer 2015, country singer Scotty McCreery recorded
"Southern Belle," a breezy, flirtatious track that
his record label sent to radio as his new single. McCreery
wasn't so sure about the choice - he said he would have
preferred to release a song such as "Five More Minutes,"
an emotional ballad he co-wrote after the death of his
grandfather. But "Southern Belle" was the kind of up-tempo
song that had proved very popular on country radio.
Several months later, "Southern Belle" stalled at No. 45 on the
charts. And McCreery, who had been with Universal Music
Group Nashville since he won "American Idol" in 2011,
His unexpected departure stung; it can be tough for young Nashville
talent to get a second chance. Then, a few months later,
McCreery performed "Five More Minutes" at the Grand
Ole Opry. He received a standing ovation. The video racked
up thousands and eventually millions of views. Syndicated
radio personality Bobby Bones caught wind of the song
and called McCreery, saying, "Dude, we're going to make this
a monster." Other stations joined in, and it became the
first song to ever crack the Top 50 Mediabase radio chart
without the support of a label.
In August 2017, McCreery signed a new deal with Triple Tigers Records. A
few months later, "Five More Minutes" became the
first No. 1 song of McCreery's career - just in time for his
new album, Seasons Change.
So Scotty, tell us: How great does it feel to get your first No. 1 with a
type of song that your former label - the one that dropped
you - chose not to release?
"It feels good," said McCreery, smiling, during a recent interview in
Nashville. "I'm not gonna lie; it feels really good."
However, the 24-year-old North Carolina native is way too nice to gloat,
so he made a point of saying how much he appreciated
everything Universal did for him. After all, his debut
album, "Clear As Day," debuted at No. 1 on the
Billboard 200 back in 2011, when he was fresh off "Idol"
and a high school senior who had no idea how the music
business worked. That record sold more than a million
copies. McCreery also had two Top 10 singles with his
sophomore album, "See You Tonight," released in 2013.
But Nashville is all about meaningful songs, and he simply never had that
breakout hit - until "Five More Minutes". So for
McCreery, that victory was sweet, particularly as an artist
who has long felt the need to prove he wasn't just "that TV
guy people voted for."
"I feel like I was still kind of fighting that battle even a few years
ago," McCreery said. "I'd say this song, more than anything,
gives you credibility and validates what we've been doing.
So I think I'm past that now."
with runner up Lauren Alaina
winning Season 10 of American Idol
onto the "American Idol" stage as a 16-year-old with
a shockingly deep singing voice similar to country crooner
Josh Turner's baritone. He stunned the judges (Steven
Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson) at his first
audition, where he belted out Turner's "Your Man."
Beyonce appeared as a guest mentor and confided she
was a huge fan. McCreery sailed to victory with the help of
a devoted, all-ages fan base. (That season's runner-up was
Lauren Alaina, another teenage country singer who,
coincidentally, also recently landed her first No. 1 hit.)
When McCreery won, he had just finished his junior year of high school;
he attended classes and played on the baseball team Monday
through Wednesday, and joined Brad Paisley's tour on
weekends. After he graduated, between recording new music
and sharpening his songwriting skills in Nashville, he
enrolled in North Carolina State University. He went for
five semesters before the balance became too hectic.
Although reality singing shows can quickly propel teen singers to
success, it's tough to figure out an artistic identity -
that was one of McCreery's biggest challenges as he relied
on record executives and longtime songwriters to show him
"I was listening to other people a bunch, which I always try to do, but
you still need to have your voice be the loudest voice when
you're making your own record and putting your name on it,"
McCreery said. "This [third] one, I was really in control
from start to finish."
In addition to "Five More Minutes" (co-written with Frank
Rogers and Monty Criswell), McCreery co-wrote all
11 songs on the album. This includes "In Between,"
about being in your early 20s; his next single, "This Is
It," a ballad about his girlfriend-turned-fiancee; and
"Seasons Change," the first song he wrote after he
got dropped from Universal. As soon as he wrote it with
James McNair and Tommy Cecil, he knew it had to
be the title track, as it perfectly captured his last few
years of ups and downs: "Just when you think you can't make
it through the rain, seasons change."
"I'm an artist, but I'm also a competitor. ... When you have somebody
tell you they don't think you can win, or they don't think
you can do something - for some people, that might knock
them down. And it did for me - for 24 hours, I was down,"
McCreery said. "Then, for me, that just pumps me up."
And really, Scotty? You don't want to gloat at all? Because with a turn
of events like that - you really should.
"When I'm alone in my room," McCreery joked, "I might have other things
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