He may be a chart-topping hitmaker with five albums under his belt, but Scotty McCreery still keeps close ties to where he comes from. In fact, the singer and his wife Gabi still own a home close to the singer's hometown of Garner, N.C., just five miles south of Raleigh.

"I still love it so much. All my friends and my family are right there," McCreery tells Taste of Country. Now, he's doubling down on his hometown connection in a partnership with USCellular's "Locally Grown, Locally Live"  campaign, underscoring the bond he shares with the community that raised him — and with the fans who make his career possible.

"I think what makes Garner Garner is the people, and the small-town feel," the country singer reflects. "It's getting bigger, but you can still go to Angie's Restaurant and you'll see all the folks I grew up going to church with, playing ball with. [My friends' parents] might still go to eat there. It's a trip down memory lane for me anytime I get to go back."

McCreery's star rose quickly as a winning American Idol contestant in 2011, but he says his relationship with his hometown hasn't changed, even though some community members initially wondered if his newfound fame would make him treat them any differently.

"I think they thought I had changed. And it took a little bit of me being around town and seeing everybody, to go, 'Oh, his life might have changed, but he's still the same person.' Now they treat me like the same old dude they did when I was growing up," he details.

As part of his partnership, McCreery will headline the USCellular Connection Stage at Summerfest in July, and fans can enter the "Locally Grown, Locally Live" VIP Fan Experience Sweepstakes for a chance to see him perform at the show.

McCreery will keep in touch with fans via an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) segment on USCellular's Instagram page. That event takes place April 5 at 8PM CT, and McCreery says he always jumps at the chance to talk one-on-one to his fans.

"It's just different ways to get to know them, and for them to get to know me, over different things like life stuff," he comments. "So I love it."

It's especially exciting for the singer to check in with his fans ahead of a big summer out on the road — McCreery is on the bill as part of Brooks & Dunn's 2023 Reboot Tour dates — and in between shows, he's working hard on readying new music, which will be heavily inspired by that same "life stuff" that he and his listeners often have in common.

"Maybe we'll [write on the road] this year, having the extra bus on weekends..it's not something I've done a lot," McCreery says. "But we've been writing a bunch outside of that, and we're just about ready to start putting some new music out there."

The singer has hinted that some of those songs were inspired by his new role as a father. McCreery and his wife welcomed their first child, son Avery, who was born in October 2022.

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