American Idol lands in Pukekohe

Scotty McCreery was one of the headlining acts at the Stampede Festival held on Saturday 4 March.

The American Idol Season 10 winner, was in the country for the first time, coming to Pukekohe for his New Zealand debut, as well as the inaugural Stampede festival, which attracted around 6000 people.

Stampede promoter Greg Mosen says the event went really well. “We used as many local businesses as we could.”

“It was fantastic. Scotty was a hit,” he says. “The crowd reacted well. It was a perfect fit.”

Scotty says he was contacted about the festival late last summer.  “We were very excited to come to New Zealand.”

At 23 years old, the country singer and songwriter has a list of achievements like no other. His album sales are approaching three million, he has received both Platinum and Gold album certifications, debuted three albums at No.1 on a Billboard Chart, toured with other country stars and headlined his own tours, and was named ‘Best American Idol’, by readers of the Los Angeles Times.

When asked what has changed since winning American Idol in 2011, he says, “Life in general. It’s busy and crazy.”

But it’s a life he enjoys, making note of incredible experiences. “Every day is a new adventure,” he says. “I get to sing country music and meet amazing people.”

There are a bunch of people Scotty has met, from other country singers to childhood idols. He’s also got to work with some of the best in the business.

“I met Priscilla Presley, Elvis’s wife,” Scotty says. A memorable moment for Scotty, who got much of his inspiration from Elvis as a five year old.

Scotty and his team arrived in New Zealand a few days before Stampede Festival.

“We did some exploring. We went to Waiheke Island, and scootered round the island.”

As a keen sports fan, Scotty says he enjoys watching sports in each country he goes to.

“Netball weirded me out,” Scotty says, grinning. “They don’t dribble the ball.”

Besides our strange sports, Scotty says he has enjoyed New Zealand, particularly Pukekohe.

“Pukekohe is awesome. It has such beautiful country side.”

“I’m hoping to get back. Everybody here has been so nice.”

If he comes back next year, he will be performing his new music, as he is due to be releasing another album this year.

“I take my inspiration from everyday life, from relationships and people. They make it real.”

Scotty leaves a few pieces of advice for up and coming stars. “Love what you do. Practice, try to get better. Get your music heard. Use social media platforms. You never know who’s listening,” he says.

When asked what trademark sign a country singer needs, Scotty says, it’s not a hat, “I don’t have a hat,” he says.

“You just need a laid back personality and a good pair of boots.”

Greg says they’re keen to put on the festival again. “We’ll debrief and learn from lessons. But everyone had a blast.”

As for Pukekohe- it’s a great fit for this country music festival, being southern from Auckland, but still attracting people from the greater Waikato. “No-ones seen to use that racetrack the way we did,” he says.