At age 10, he received his first guitar, a Christmas present from his grandfather. "It is probably my favorite Christmas present. I started strumming right away. I might not have sounded good, but I was strumming. That guitar carried me a long way, for sure." Actually, he became so obsessed with the instrument that he slept with it that winter.
"Choosing songs for this record wasnt that difficult. Songs like O Holy Night and First Noel and Mary Did You Know, Ive sung those songs for years, so those songs have a history with me."
He also has a history of loving the music of Elvis Presley. As a boy, he was inspired by a book his grandmother gave him that offered suggestions on how to be like Elvis. He listened to Elvis cassettes and even dressed up like Elvis for Halloween.
"My favorite Christmas album, it might be obvious, was the Elvis Christmas album. Theres nothing like it. He puts a spin on things, and it works, because hes the King. So it was cool that we have an Elvis Christmas song on the record, Santa Claus Is Back in Town. I tried to channel the King. I might have had a little lip curl when I was recording it. Im proud of that one."
He knew he wanted to include some holiday standards, such as "Jingle Bells," "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "First Noel," as well.
"I also heard a couple of new songs. Christmas in Heaven and Christmas Is Coming Around Again really touched me. As soon as I heard them, I knew they were going to be on the album. I knew I was supposed to record them, and people were supposed to hear them. In the end, it was very clear which ones were supposed to be on the record.
"Recording this album was definitely a lot more comfortable and a lot more relaxed than Clear As Day was. Clear as Day was definitely a little more hectic. We started as soon as Idol got done, right out of the gate recording in Portland, Oregon, Nashville and Los Angeles. We were everywhere.
"But for this one, we were all in Nashville, and everybody was relaxed. We had Christmas lights in there and Christmas cupcakes, even though it was in the middle of July and August. It was a cool experience this time around, for sure."
Youd never know it from his unfailingly polite, unflappable demeanor, but the rise of young Scotty has been blindingly rapid. Following a youth spent singing in church in the Raleigh satellite community of Garner, N.C., he led a praise-and-worship group called Audience of One. More significantly, he sang with an advanced high-school chorale group called Die Meistersingers. It required him to sight-read music, perform classical pieces and compete with similar groups on a national level.