American Idol Scotty McCreery — the TV show's youngest male winner — has continued to gain momentum during his ongoing national tour, which will play the Orange County Fair's Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on July 18.
According to McCreery, 18, the tour set list will feature a few Elvis Presley and George Strait covers, along with every song from his 2011 debut album "Clear As Day."
The album was certified platinum, selling more than one million copies three months after its release on Interscope Records.
"I was pumped [when the album went platinum]," McCreery said in a phone interview. "It's something that every artist strives for. You don't think it's going to happen when you put the album out. You just kind of hope people will go and listen to it. It was a huge milestone for us."
McCreery first won America over during the early rounds of "American Idol" with his laid back, down-to-Earth personality. The small town country crooner soon became known as the all-American kid with the deep voice.
In May 2011, McCreery won season 10 of "Idol" when a record-breaking 122.4 million votes were cast for the finale.
But, when asked if he thought he would ever win, McCreery answered humbly.
"Oh, heck no," McCreery said. "I just wanted to try out on a whim just so I could have a cool story to tell my friends back home. It kind of just took off and I kept making it through, and I'm here now."
"It's just been a crazy whirlwind of year. We got to do crazy things like going to sing at the World Series, going to the Macy's Day Parade, and all kinds of cool stuff. It's just been a big blessing and my whole life has definitely changed for the better. And I'm getting to live a dream every day. So, I'm just taking it in and enjoying every second of it."
The experience is still surreal for McCreery, who got his start singing at church and in school choirs around Garner, N.C., near Raleigh.
In 2009, he won Clayton Idol — a small-town Idol competition — which gave him the confidence to perform at local coffee shops, and eventually audition for "Idol" in Milwaukee.
"I kind of grew up with an older background," McCreery said with a rich, southern drawl that defied his age.
"I listened to stuff like Elvis Presley when I was a kid. "Then there are some of the new guys like George Strait, Josh Turner, and Brad Paisley. All of these guys really put an influence on my music. Hopefully, I can continue it all and maybe influence somebody else along the road."
In addition to winning "USA Weekend's Breakthrough Video of the Year " at the 11th annual CMT awards earlier this month, McCreery recently graduated from high school.
He will continue juggling school and a music career with his supportive parents — and part-time managers — by his side. In the fall, he will attend North Carolina State University where he will major in communications/public relations.
And, the ladies? They'll have to wait.
"Gosh, yeah, I wish [a girl was in the picture]," McCreery said. "It's a busy life you know. It's tough to really get any of that stuff going when you're on the road this much."
After the tour, McCreery plans on finishing up his second album, which will give him the opportunity to collaborate and learn from Nashville's finest songwriters.
"We're actually just starting the process right now, and getting songs in and I'm writing a little bit," McCreery said. "I don't know if we'll have it out by the end of the year or maybe early next year, but it's a work in progress."
As season 11 of "American Idol" came to a close, a new Idol was crowned. Now, Phillip Phillips and runner-up Jessica Sanchez have embarked on their post-idol journeys, as well.
After McCreery sang "Please Remember Me" on the American Idol season 11 finale, he had a chance to pass on words of wisdom to the finalists.
"I just told them just go out there and try to learn, McCreery said. "Just don't go out there and think you know everything. I've had a year under my belt now being with Idol and I'm still the newbie and [I'm] still trying to figure out this business and learn. "
Editor's note: Writer Heather Youmans appeared as a contestant on "American Idol."
If You Go
What: Scotty McCreery
When: 8 p.m. July 18
Where: Pacific Amphitheatre, OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA
Tickets: Start at $22.50, and include free OC Fair admission.