13 years ago today, Scotty McCreery‘s life was changed forever. It was on January 26, 2011 when the North Carolina native auditioned for Season 10 of American Idol, kicking off a career that continues to reach new heights and achieve new milestones.
McCreery sang both Josh Turner‘s “Your Man” and Travis Tritt’s “Put Some Drive in Your Country,” for Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson, who all heartily agreed to put him through to Hollywood.
“With the right songs, we discovered him,” Lopez said after McCreery left the room.
McCreery of course went on to win American Idol, beating out Lauren Alaina, who was the runner-up. Although immensely grateful for the success he found as a result of the reality TV talent show, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for him after he was crowned the winner.
“There are pros and cons to everything in life. For [American Idol], the pros far, far outweighed the cons,” McCreery acknowledged on Trib Live. “A lot of times for country artists, yes, people hear your songs on the radio and they love them, but putting a face to the name can be tough. Idol does that right out of the gate — that doesn’t make you a successful artist, but it can make you a TV star.
“There were times right after the show that I couldn’t walk through airports. They’d have to take me underground, because it was so crazy,” he added. “But I didn’t go on that show to become a TV star. I really wanted to become a country music star, and that takes years and years of effort, making relationships, learning how to write songs and learning how to perform on stage.”
McCreery started off strong after winning Idol, but faced a major setback when his first label, Mercury Nashville, dropped him after “Southern Belle,” failed to hit the Top 40 at radio.
“I knew ‘Southern Belle’ didn’t do well, but I also knew that we had ‘Five More Minutes’ in the wings, waiting,” McCreery later said on CMT Stages. “I just knew we’d come back with that, and it was just going to be a no-brainer. But eventually, we never got that chance.”
Undeterred, the tenacious singer released “Five More Minutes” on his own, with the song becoming his first No. 1 hit, and landing him a record deal with Triple Tigers.
“I think it all worked out the way it was supposed to,” McCreery said. “I can look back now and see things that I thought were so bad that were really blessings in disguise.”