Scotty McCreery first arrived in Milwaukee as a young man with a dream. Auditioning for “American Idol” as a 17-year-old kid, the North Carolina native was quick to wow the judges against the backdrop of the Milwaukee Art Museum. McCreery took his talent all the way to the title of “American Idol” winner, launching his musical career into orbit.


Now, 13 years later, McCreery just released his sixth career album, “Rise & Fall,” in May. His hit song, “Five More Minutes,” has more than 208 million streams on Spotify alone, and Scotty headlines venues around the country all but a few weeks a year.


Just a few weeks away from headlining the Christian Yelich's Home Plate Charity Concert on July 25 at the Pabst Theater, we had a chance to catch up with McCreery to talk about this homecoming of sorts, life on the road, his baseball career and more.

Christian Yelich

So, as you get set to headline the charity concert, this will be a homecoming of sorts. You're from North Carolina originally, and you came to Milwaukee to try out for "American Idol" back in 2011. So, with that, what resonates with you most about your "American Idol" audition trip to Milwaukee some 13 years later?


Yeah, I've always loved coming back to Milwaukee. I feel like I've always had a good time. It does feel like family. I feel like Milwaukee embraced me through that Idol experience. We've had the chance to play Summerfest a few different times now, and the Summerfest stage is right there by the art museum, which is where I auditioned for the judges. So, it's always been a fun thing to play Summerfest, look over and see the art museum. But just being in Milwaukee in general. So, to be back there for Christian's event, help veterans, and have a good time doing it. It's going to be a great night.


Of course, you're heading back to town all these years later for the Christian Yelich's Home Plate Charity Concert, and you're supporting three great local causes, from hurricane relief to cancer research to youth baseball and so much more. Your philanthropic work has been a fixture throughout your career. Why did you jump on board with this event to make such a significant impact in our city?


Yeah, well, number one, I love to give back. I feel like I've been blessed to bless others. So, any chance I get, I will try to jump at those opportunities. Two, it just felt like a great fit. You know, I'm a huge baseball fan. And everybody knows who Yelich is. He was on my fantasy baseball team at one point a few years ago. I'm a big fan, and getting a call from somebody like him, you want to be able to go and help out. If I could sing and we can raise some money and help a lot of people out, I'm all for it.


You've played shows in Milwaukee over the last several years. Do you have any favorite shows or venues that stand out most?


You know, I mentioned Summerfest. We also got to play after an Admirals game. That was really fun. Get a chance to watch hockey, have a few brews with the guys and then play the show. We had a good ol' time. One of the last times I was there, I brought all my childhood friends, and we went to a Brewers game. There was one bar in particular that bussed you to the game, and the wings were phenomenal. I can't remember its name. It was a blast.

SM_High Res_Photo Credit Jeff Ray

So now, as you're getting to getting set to headline the Christian Yelich's Home Plate Charity Concert, what do you get most excited about when you're prepping for these charity events?


I feel like we can have fun with these events. Everybody's there for the same reason: to raise money for great causes. So, you know, you don't have to be just so. The setlist isn’t the same, we can throw in random covers, we can bring Christian on stage if he wants to sing a song, we can do all sorts of stuff. So, I love these kinds of things. And the setup's always fun. It's for a great cause, but it's for the fans to have fun and everybody to enjoy themselves that night.


Do you have any surprises off the top of your head in the works for that night?


You know, I don't know. Like I said, maybe if Christian wants to come sing "Friends in Low Places" or something like that, I'm sure me and the band would welcome that. I think as we're getting a little closer, we'll have to start thinking about maybe some curveballs to throw in there.

Scotty McCreery

Well, it is fitting that you talk about curveballs. So, you're a baseball fan. You played high school ball in North Carolina. What lessons do you feel from the game have applied to your career in music and entertainment?


A lot. Baseball was my first love right there with music. It was the two of them together. I was a pitcher, so for me, I felt like being on the mound, all eyes are on you, you're in control of the game. The pace of the game. You're either hitting your spots, or you're not. So, for me, as an artist, I'm kind of the CEO of this business we take on the road, and all eyes are on me on stage. I control the flow of the setlist.


So, I see a lot of parallels between being a pitcher and being an artist. But then, just being a part of a team. It's my name on the album. It's my name on the billboards and stuff. But it's such a team behind the scenes that's making all this go and so many moving parts. I wouldn't be doing anything like I'm doing right now without that team. So, the teamwork aspect of baseball, I think is huge.


As a pitcher, did you have a favorite pitch?


Yeah, it was definitely my slider as my go-to pitch. I always had dreams of the big league, but I realized that my low 80s fastball wasn't going to get it done. But, man, I'll pat myself on the back here: my senior season, I think I led the team in innings pitched, had 55 strikeouts and only eight walks. You know, I had my spots now that was pretty good. Oh, man, I'd throw that thing 0-2, would throw it 3-0. I loved it.


It would move a lot back then, but I feel like I tried to throw it the other day on the beach, and it looked like a fastball. Back then, I tried to start it on their head, and hopefully, it would finish bottom-left of the plate.


We have a hypothetical baseball-related question for you here: it’s the bottom of the ninth. You're up one run. Bases loaded, two outs. You're on the mound with a chance to close out the game. You get the save. Get the win for your team. You're on the road here in Milwaukee. Scotty McCreery is coming out of the bullpen, and Christian Yelich steps up to the plate. How does that scenario play out in your mind?


Bases loaded. We're up one? Oh, man. I think, early on, you got to try and see if he'll chase a little, you know, don't give him anything to beat you down the middle. But you can't walk him. I'd be throwing some low sliders, just hoping he'd roll it over. But knowing Christian, he probably wouldn't.


Secure your seat to this exclusive once-in-a-lifetime show for a good cause and uncover what tricks Scotty and Co. have up their sleeves! Get your tickets to the Christian Yelich's Home Plate Charity Concert today.