From September through December SI will be speaking to musicians of all genres about the intersection of music and sports.
This week, SI sits down with Scotty McCreery, a former American Idol winner and New England sports superfan.
SI.com: For some of our readers who may not be familiar with your music, tell us about yourself as an artist. How have you transitioned from your days on American Idol into the singer you are today?
SM: I’ve grown up a little bit since American Idol. I grew up loving country music, and I’m an old soul when it comes to listening to traditional stuff. You have to keep it current to survive, though, so I blend the two together to get the best of both.
SI.com: Talk to us about your newest single, “Southern Belle,” which was recently released. How does this song reflect the style of your upcoming album in 2016?
SM: It’s definitely a little sample of what's to come. It’s a new sound from the stuff I've done before. We’re experimenting in the studio, and it’s going to be a really fun record. We're still recording. We're still out there writing. But it's going to be great.
SI.com: What’s been your biggest accomplishment as an artist up to this point?
SM: I'd say probably my first two records debuting at No. 1 on the charts. I think it’s the first time that’s happened since the early '90s. It's so cool to see my fans are so supportive, and it sheds more light on them than on me really. I’m so thrilled to have them in my corner.
SI.com: Country Weekly recently deemed you the “good guy” in country music. Do you think that image has helped you set your career apart from others in the genre?
SM: I just try to keep it clean for the most part with my music, and that’s different. It’s just something that's different in the crazy world we live in. I mean, it's a little wild out there nowadays. I just try to keep my music fairly clean, so I think that's what they meant.
SI.com: So let’s talk about sports. Did you grow up loving to watch or play anything?
SM: I grew up with baseball and golf in my family. I gravitated toward baseball when I was younger and pitched in high school. But now that’s all done; golf is my go-to. I go [golfing] literally every day I can.
SI.com: Who are your favorite teams now? Players? Coaches? We heard you’re a pretty big fan of the Patriots, Tom Brady, Jordan Spieth and Josh Hamilton.
SM: My dad and his whole family are from New England, and as a North Carolina boy, it's tough being a New England sports fan. The Red Sox are my No. 1 team. The Patriots are a close second. Then there's NC State—I’m very passionate about the school’s sports teams. We like to take the tour bus out to watch their March Madness games.
As far as players, Tom [Brady] is as good as it gets. And it's incredible that [Jordan] Spieth is my age and golfing out there. He's accomplished so much at such a young age.
SI.com: Since you're such an avid golfer, what is your top tip for improving your game?
SM: Learn to enjoy practicing. The folks killing it out there enjoy going out and practicing.
SI.com: If you could spend a day on the golf course with one of your favorite athletes, who would it be? And do you think you’d beat him or her?
SM: I'd be out there against Spieth, who I definitely wouldn’t beat. It would also be cool to be out there with some baseball guys. I’ve talked to a lot of pitchers like Tim Wakefield, who also golfs a lot. So it would be cool to see how I stack up against guys like him.
SI.com: What’s your favorite sports memory?
SM: My last game before I went on American Idol, I pitched a complete game shutout, so that was my last big hoorah. But as a fan, I would definitely saying going to the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl [in 2015], and seeing the Patriots. I loved the after party and getting to sing for them the Tuesday before the game. I also got to go out to Arizona and sing before the game, so the whole experience was pretty special as a Pats fan.
SI.com: Do you ever get a chance to connect your love of music and sports? Is there pre-show, halftime concert, etc. that you would kill to play?
SM: The Super Bowl halftime show would be my ultimate dream. But that’s years and years, and hits and hits, down the road. In general, I try to combine [sports and music] as much as I can. On show days I go and play golf to escape the music business for just a few hours. It's interesting, because I’ve learned that a lot of musicians wish they were athletes and vice versa. It's nice to be able to exchange game tickets and concert tickets with each other and combine the two loves whenever possible.