PRINCETON — Scotty McCreery has been hummin' since he was one.
The first time his mother can remember hearing him, she was bringing her son home from his one-year-old check-up at the doctor's office.
"I think it's just always been in my blood," said the now 24-year-old country music star who quickly rose to fame after winning Season 10 of American Idol in 2011.
McCreery is set to perform during the 163rd annual Bureau County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 23.
He will join a long list of blue-ribbon entertainers who've stepped out in front of the grandstand over the years. Just to name a few, there's been Johnny Cash, George Jones, Kenny Chesney, Tammy Wynette, Tonya Tucker, Brad Paisley, and the list goes on.
McCreery, who took a moment from his tour to speak with the Bureau County Republican, was shocked when he heard those names. He said it's "totally awesome" to be following in their footsteps.
"Any time you get to play a stage that the big greats have been to, it's pretty cool to step on that stage and take it all in," he said.
"We're big country music fans on this bus, so I'll have to tell my guitar players that. They'll be freaking out."
McCreery's breakthrough in the music industry came early for him. He was only 17 years old when he won American Idol, which made him the youngest male artist of any genre to win the popular singing competition.
Even if he hadn't won American Idol, McCreery said he would have still ended up in Nashville trying to make it big.
"There's a lot of talented people in Nashville and a lot of great songwriters and a lot of people moving there. They say it's 100 people a day moving to Nashville right now. It would have been tough, but that was always the plan," he said.
The North Carolina resident said he'd planned to go to college in Nashville and try to make it while a student there. And if he hadn't made it big by graduation, he might have stayed a little longer and tried to network through the bar scene.
"Luckily, it worked out a little earlier than planned," he said.
McCreery's debut album, Clear as Day, entered at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart in 2011 and was certified platinum. It became the best-selling solo album released by a country artist that year, and McCreery made history becoming the first country music artist to have his debut album enter at No. 1.
McCreery went on to win the New Artist of the Year award, at both the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards and the American Country Awards, and received the CMT Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year for "The Trouble with Girls."
Since his debut, he's released two more albums, including 2013's See You Tonight and this year's Seasons Change. Plus, he's made a chart-topping Christmas record, which was released in 2012.
McCreery considers his greatest breakthrough to be when he wrote "Five More Minutes" with songwriters Frank Rogers and Monty Criswell in February 2015.
"I knew it was a special song," he said. "I tweeted that day that we just wrote my favorite song I've ever written."
When the song was complete, McCreery was still searching for a new label, but he and his team decided to make a bold move and release the song on their own with no record company behind it.
"Most sane people would have said to wait, but my management and I really believed in it — and at the core of country music, it still comes down to the song. We were willing to bet on that. We knew it might take awhile, but we felt like we could do it and build something one step at a time."
Fortunately, it took no time at all for that song to go big. "Five More Minutes" was ranked No. 2. on the iTunes country singles chart and No. 9 on the iTunes all-genre singles chart. It debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard country digital sales chart. It was the first country music single in history to reach the Top 50 on the country aircheck/mediabase chart without being released on a record label.
McCreery said he wrote the song after his granddaddy Bill's passing, and he became the inspiration behind many of the lyrics.
"(The song) just became about life in general and the sentiments we all have and wanting to spend more time at certain parts in our life with people," he said.
As the days get closer to McCreery's arrival, his message to Bureau County fans is that he "loves and appreciates them."
"They are the reason I'm here," he said.
McCreery welcomed all ages to his show.
"It's definitely something that the kids can come out to and the grandparents and everything in between. Come out and enjoy it. It should be a great time," he said.
The crowd can expect to hear a lot of McCreery's own songs, as well as covers of those who've influence him over the years.
To purchase tickets for McCreery's show, visit www.bureaucountyfair.com.