Scotty Pulls It Off!
As fellow contestants lifted “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery onto their shoulders, his Moore County family and some of their friends raised glasses of champagne to salute him as they danced around the room, hugging one another.
About 25 people, including McCreery’s grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and two cousins, attended a American Idol party at the home of Debbie and Jim Delong in Southern Pines.
When “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest announced Scotty as the show’s winner, the DeLong home erupted in an avalanche of cheers and tears.
“I told you he was going to win!” Bill McCreery said as he hugged his tearful wife, Paquita, after the announcement.
“My phone is blowing up right now,” said McCreery’s cousin Casey Creech.
“Its not going to hit me for a while,” said Casey’s sister Samantha. “Tomorrow (Thursday) at school is going to be crazy. I know for 100 percent sure I am going to wear my Scotty McCreery T-shirt.”
“We are very proud of him,” Paquita McCreery said. “America did it. They voted for him.”
Throughout the two-hour finale, which aired Wednesday on Fox, plenty of music superstars took the stage, including Tony Bennett, Gladys Knight, Kirk Franklin, Lady Gaga, U2, Judas Priest and Beyonce. “American Idol” judges Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Jennifer Lopez performed.
But in Moore County, it was McCreery’s “Live Like You Were Dyin’” duet with country music superstar Tim McGraw that really brought the house down. Everyone crowded around the television and sang the song’s chorus and waved their arms in unison as they watched.
As the evening wore on, the nervous energy in the room became palpable as the hour neared 10 p.m. and the announcement of the winner. By 9:45 p.m. viewers were checking their watches, and those who could sit utilized only the edge of their seats.
“I’m nervous!” said Paquita McCreery.
As Seacrest paused after saying, “The winner of American Idol is...” she buried her head on her husband’s shoulder and said “Scotty!” After seconds of silence that seemed an eternity, Seacrest finished his sentence with “Scotty McCreery,” and cheers erupted from those inside the DeLong home.
She had said earlier that it didn’t matter to her whether her grandson won or not. Making the final two on the show, she said, was enough to make him a winner. But Tuesday night, the proud grandmother was going to do all she could to help. As soon as voting opened at the conclusion of Tuesday’s “Idol,” she grabbed her cell phone.
“I was redialing and redialing until 1 o’clock,” she said. “I’ve never done it (voted) for more than half an hour, but this time I wanted to make sure I did every little bit I could do to help.”
122 Million Votes
In all, a record number of votes — more than 122 million — were cast via text, phone and Facebook. McCreery, the 17-year-old from Garner with the deep voice and the knack for crooning a country tune, received more votes than fellow country singer Lauren Alaina, 16, of Georgia.
“His life is changed forever,” Bill McCreery said after Scotty’s win.
Though Paquita McCreery hadn’t thought her grandson would win, other members of the family were more confident.
“From a vocal standpoint, it’s a tough matchup to gauge,” Casey Creech said. “They are both teens, and they both sing country, but — and I’m not being biased here because I am related to him — but I think he has an edge because of his fan base.”
Debbie DeLong said her family has been hosting American Idol parties during the finale since the show began. All the parties, she said, have been fun, but this year’s was special.
“It’s really special when you have somebody to root for,” DeLong said. “My daughter said to me that at most parties the crowd is pretty well split, with half rooting for one and the rest rooting for the other.”
“That’s not the case tonight,” said Delong’s friend, Jayne Lee, who also attended the party.
‘Unbelievable’ ... ‘Stunned’
Samantha, 17, and Casey, 15, said it has been odd for them to deal with their cousin’s meteoric rise to become a household name to millions of Americans.
“Its weird because everybody is calling him cute and saying they want to marry him,” Samantha said.
Said Casey: “People ask me, ‘How well do you know him? Do you exchange Christmas gifts?’” Casey said.
Casey, who is in the choral program at Pinecrest, said her classmates have even begged her to bring him to school.
“They say, ‘You you bring Scotty in and have him sing for us,’” she said.
Samantha, who is just a couple of months older than Scotty, said she is grateful to her friends and the community for their support of her now-famous cousin.
“(Tuesday) My friend Sydney (Turner) showed me her phone,” Samantha said. “She voted 278 times through text message. Even my friends who don’t watch the show still vote.”
Tina McCreery Creech said she was proud of her nephew and called the fact that he had won “unbelievable.”
It was a message she repeated in a cell phone conversation she had moments after the announcement was made.
“Stunned,” she said. “I told you I never thought he’d get there, and when he got there I never thought he’d win. And then he got in the top 10 and I said, ‘He might as well win it,’ and he did.”
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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