In the Tour Bus with Scotty McCreery
Fans packed the Katy Crawfish Festival during a memorable performance
By Melanie Saxton
Photography by Debi Beauregard
March 23 was a big day for country music fans who arrived from all over the state for an appearance by American Idol winner Scotty McCreery. He included Katy, Texas in his 2013 Weekend Roadtrip Tour and played for throngs who enjoyed the food, rides, a variety of bands—and especially Scotty’s signature deep vocals.
We climbed aboard his tour bus and were greeted with his famous smile and iconic cross necklace. He was raised by parents who taught him to be polite, humble, and appreciative of the many blessings which have come his way since winning Season 10 finale of American Idol. He was just 16 at the audition and became the youngest male Idol winner (at 17) in the show’s history with a record-breaking 122 million fan votes. He joined fellow Idols and finalists including Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert in producing No. 1 hits.
As the youngest male artist to open at the top of the all-genre chart with a debut album release, Clear as Day, he watched his hard work pay off in just 13 weeks as the album became certified platinum (over one million sold) in the U.S. “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls”became gold singles. Christmas with Scotty McCreery, his 2012 holiday album, was also certified gold.
Fans and Travel
In 2011 Scotty won the American Country Awards Artist of the Year: New Artist. As they did on Idol, fans voted him in as New Artist of the Year at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. He earned additional nominations and awards such as CMT Music Awards USA Breakthrough Video of the Year. “We were on the road about 200 days last year, and will probably do the same this year,” says Scotty. Tour manager Mike Childers commented that despite a demanding schedule, Scotty managed to take some time off last year to play baseball. Downtime is a precious commodity spent with family and friends, often watching basketball and Duck Dynasty. When asked if he has any pets, he joked, “Yes, two dogs and my band.” He’d like a Labrador or an English Bulldog, but for now has to settle for his parents’ pair of Bichon Frise “fou fou dogs.”
What’s not to love about this 19-year-old sensation? “McCreeriens” follow Scotty on Twitter and Facebook, and a glance at the fan blogs reveals international posts from Canada, South Africa and India. He especially thanks those who fly or drive to his concerts from great distances. For instance, Emily Woxland has followed Scotty since he auditioned for American Idol and voted for him each week. She arrived in Katy from Fort Worth and has previously driven to Arkansas and Tennessee for past performances. “Our five-hour drive and ‘weekend roadtrip’ was definitely well worth it!” she enthused.
Fellow superfan Liz Matjeka traveled from Kerrville with her husband Rob. They joined daughter and son-in-law, Kim and Rob D’Ambroso of Katy, along with grandsons David and Andrew and granddaughter Catherine Oxford, who drove in with her husband Adam from Boerne. All attended the VIP meet-and-greet after Scotty’s performance. “A lot of fans were initially drawn to Scotty when we heard his amazing voice at the Idol audition. As we got to know this wonderful young man with his strong faith, values, and most of all his awesome talent, we have grown more committed as fans,” she says.
The biggest “fan surprise” of the evening came when Kendall Bumbera of Katy was treated to a face-to-face meeting with Scotty aboard his bus. She was in shock! Little did she know that her sports agent, family and Scotty’s management team had arranged this special moment, particularly because she and Scotty have so much in common. They happen to both be juggling college and careers. Kendall, a NASCAR race car driver, has been a Scotty fan since his Idol audition. Likewise, Scotty is a fan of race cars.
“What do you drive?” asked Kendall.
“An F150 named Loretta,” answered Scotty, who soon learned she owns a Silverado.
“Who’s your favorite Texas country music artist?” she wondered.
“Randy Rogers is one,” he said, and happened to be hers, as well.
“I have that bracelet,” she commented, pointing to the I AM SECOND inscription on his wrist, which testifies to their belief in putting God first.
“Really? That’s cool,” he responded as he spoke of his religious upbringing.
Faith and Family
As a Southern Baptist, Scotty’s values resonate with people of faith. He just happened to be on the computer when the Nashville audition for American Idol was announced. “Why not?” he thought, but passed when the timing conflicted with church camp — something he looked forward to every year. In fact, he was baptized at church camp at the age of 12. “It was then that I accepted Christ — the pastor said if it felt like peanut butter in my veins (and it did), then I got it.”
As one of the better pitchers at his high school in Garner, North Carolina, he opted to audition in Milwaukee despite an interruption in baseball practice. His dad used frequent flier miles to transport the family. Scotty’s rendition of “Your Man” by Josh Turner caused Jennifer Lopez to comment, “You made me smile!” Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler were blown away as he sang Travis Tritt’s “Put Some Drive in Your Country.” They sent him to Hollywood and the rest is history.
Scotty’s parents could not be prouder. His father Michael was born to a Puerto Rican mother and American father, which means Scotty claims a 1/4 Puerto Rican heritage. He is connecting with these roots through Spanish courses as a freshman at North Carolina State College. A 13-hour course load in communications has him juggling weekend appearances and academics.
Support from his family helps, especially from mom Judy Cooke McCreery — his biggest fan. She couldn’t attend the Katy Crawfish Festival but followed along on social media as his fans weighed in. Scotty loves his big sister Ashley, who celebrated a 23rd birthday on March 25, two days after Scotty’s appearance in Katy. This coincided with his television appearance as a host at the American Country Music Top New Artist special on the Great American Country (GAC) channel.
As fans clamor for new music, Scotty is testing songs for audience reaction. We’ll see if “See You Tonight,” “Rock This Night” and “Suntan” will appear on an album to be released in September. Watch for a new single in May.
His advice for aspiring music artists? “Stay strong in your faith. You don’t have to do this or that. Look at families like the Bumberas or Duck Dynasty who stick to their values.” He admires people who hold fast to their ethics and stay true to themselves even when faced with fame.
Scotty is considering taking a lighter course load at college but is determined to graduate. He’s even more determined to pursue his music career and tour the country, fulfilling a dream that only a handful of young men could ever imagine. In the midst of it all, he’s just very grateful for the opportunity.