‘American Idol’ winner McCreery to sing old, new country at Genesee

Scott McCreery was living his life as a typical teenager, playing baseball and singing in the school choir when he tried out for “American Idol” on a lark.

“I didn’t think much about it – and the rest is history,” said the 23-year-old country star known for his deep, velvety voice. He’s coming to Genesee Theatre May 11 with “a big light show.”

“It’s an energized show from start to finish. I like to take folks on a journey – take them on highs and bring them down a bit. I like to make it a roller coaster ride,” he said.

Since winning season 10 of “American Idol,” McCreery’s career has been only going up. He produced a gold and a platinum album, and also was named new artist of the year.

But he tips his country hat to those who came before him. Indeed his concerts typically include an homage to Conway Twitty and other country singers, once in the Grand Ole Opry limelight.

“We do a whole throwback medley – I have a unique opportunity to reach a younger fan base with what’s going on right now with country, and I can also play the role of teacher for those folks, to make sure they know who those guys were,” McCreery said.

Twitty died the year McCreery was born, and his other idol, Elvis Presley, was long gone. But their music influenced him since he was a youngster growing up in North Carolina.

His grandmother introduced him to Elvis, he said.

“I fell in love with his music – Hound Dog and Blue Suede Shoes. It was his style, the way he sang, the way he made things his own. In my mind, there never was anyone like him before and I don’t think there ever will be again.”

His parents always had Conway Twitty’s music in the house, he said. “Hello Darlin'” was his mom’s favorite.

He’s sung Twitty covers while performing in Nashville.

McCreery started as a tenor when he was in school, but as his voice changed, he relished singing in the deep bass style for which he is known. He sang in church, as a lead in school musicals and across the country with a high school group.

“I was always trying to sing a little lower, a little deeper,” he said. He worked on his voice taking classical chorus technique lessons. “I was taught really well.”

Walking onto the “American Idol” stage in 2011, McCreery said, he was a bit of a shock for the audience. His deep voice contrasted with his teenage boy appearance. He was a senior in high school and just 16.

Since then he’s been on a whirlwind of tours and produced three albums, with another on the way.

“My favorite thing about country music is real people singing real life stories. The guys back then really knew how to do that,” McCreery said. “My goal is to mesh the old with the new.” That means telling stories but also incorporating a 21st century country beat and guitar sound, he said.

He’s releasing his new single, “Five More Minutes,” which he wrote a couple of weeks after his grandfather died.

He sang it at Grand Ole Opry in 2016. One of the lines he wrote was “Wish I had me a…

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