McCreery found inspiration in many holiday albums, but admits there is one particular classic that holds a special place in his heart. "My favorite Christmas album growing up was Elvis's Christmas Album," he said, singling out "Blue Christmas" as his favorite. "When that song comes on, it's Christmas time. Also, 'Santa Claus Is Back In Town.' That was my second favorite song, and we were able to put that on our album. It was pretty cool to be able to channel the 'King' as we recorded it."
One cut on the disc that has a deep personal meaning to the singer is "Christmas In Heaven," which brought to mind someone very special.
"That's by far my favorite song on the record. I was actually writing a song a little bit like that about my grandfather before that song got sent to me. When you find the right song, you just have to go with it. I heard it, and I didn't have to listen to the first verse before I said 'This one's going on the record. It's just a powerful song that's got a great message to it. It touched me when I heard it, and hopefully - if people are missing someone at Christmas, it will touch them as well."
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Already hard at work on his next studio album, he says he is trying to get more involved in the writing process. "I'm actually trying to to put my own stamp out there, so people can see what I'm about," he said. "I think the first album was a good representation of me, and I'm proud of it. But, I think it was definitely rushed."
As an "Idol" winner, he laughs when asked how he feels when fans want to discuss the FOX hit with him. "I embrace it," he said. "I think as an artist, it's important for me to grow and move on from that, to get focused on Nashville, and the industry, but I would never shy away from where I came from or how I got here. I think it's cool. I think it will be interesting to see Keith Urban out there in the middle of Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. It will be interesting to see how he handles that."
On the business end, the North Carolina native has just inked a commercial endorsement deal with the Bojangles fried chicken chain. He admits he didn't need a lot of convincing. "I've been endorsing Bojangles since I was a young kid. They just don't know it. I've been going there, and eating their chicken for many years now. I'm excited to be a part of their team and to get to support and promote them. Hopefully, we can get them to go nationwide, because they are only on the east coast. When I'm touring out west, I miss it. It's a great company with great people, and they have great fried chicken. I'm glad to be a part of them."