Courtesy: Billboard / Jessica Nicholson

Screenshot 2022 11 21 075201With songs like “Five More Minutes” and “This Is It,” Scotty McCreery has taken fans with him on his journey from dating his now-wife Gabi to the couple’s mountaintop engagement in 2017 to their wedding in North Carolina a year later. Now, they are settling into their new roles as parents. On Oct. 24, the couple welcomed their first child, son Merrick Avery McCreery (who goes by Avery).

“He’s awesome. He is healthy,” McCreery tells Billboard. “It’s been so cool just to watch him grow and it’s only been three weeks and we’re just getting started, but it’s been the joy of my life. It’s been incredible, and also just seeing Gabi be a mom—she’s worked so hard for nine months and is still crushing it. It’s been cool getting to do this together and just be there for him.”

This week, McCreery released the music video for “It Matters to Her,” directed by Jeff Ray, who has helmed previous McCreery videos including “Five More Minutes” and “Damn Strait.” The video clip is essentially a digital scrapbook of the McCreerys’ journey to welcoming their son, with footage of the day Gabi found out she was pregnant (Feb. 25), as well as ultrasound appointments, painting the baby’s nursery and playing music for Avery in utero.

“I thought it would be a perfect thing to showcase our journey, pregnancy and that whole nine-month process. Gabi’s doing the hard work, or course, and it’s my job to help her and be there for her and just getting the house ready and getting ourselves ready, the dog ready, everything ready for Avery. The video came out better than I could have imagined. I’m excited for Avery to watch the video a few years from now and see what he thinks.”

As for which parent little Avery resembles at the moment, McCreery says, “I think everybody’s saying he looks a lot like me, but I see a little bit of his mama in there, too. And he’s got that little grin, that smile—it’s probably more of a reflex right now than anything, but he does that when he’s sleeping or dreaming but it’s just cute. We are loving every minute with him.”

Among the many baby gifts they have received are Louisiana State University onesies (McCreery’s a fan) and the book Goodnight Moon from McCreery’s family. “I remember that book being read to me when I was growing up,” McCreery recalls.

Given his own career in music which started in his teens via American Idol, McCreery says he will “absolutely” support his son if Avery shows a similar propensity for music.

“Music did so much for me even before I did it professionally. It was a passion of mine and it’ll always be a part of me. I think it’s huge for development, the arts and getting to use that creative side of your brain. I’ll encourage the heck out of Avery to do whatever he wants, but if it’s music, arts or anything, I hope he crushes it and does what he wants to do.”

While enjoying time at home with his newly expanded family, McCreery is also following up his five consecutive Billboard Country Airplay No. 1 hits (including the three-week No. 1 “Damn Strait”) with the deluxe edition of his album Same Truck, which Triple Tigers releases today (Nov. 18), featuring six additional tracks.

McCreery’s approach to this album was different than his previous works, given that he had nearly a full album ready to go prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The world shuts down and we had all this time to write and record more songs.” McCreery says. “Those newer songs are what made the main Same Truck album, but then we had all these other songs already recorded and mastered. So instead of going back in and recording, we already had it. And I was kind of in the same creative mindset when I was writing those songs as I was with the newer songs, so it flowed really nicely and it feels like one cohesive project.”

After taking parental leave, McCreery returns to the road December, and he says touring will look different in the coming months and years.

“I’ve kind of had the same system for touring for the past 10 years, so it’s gonna come as a big shock, but in all the best ways. Next year, we are bringing out a baby bus, so Avery and Gabi will be out there, and [the couple’s yellow Labrador] Moose will be out there. It’s a family affair. And honestly, even before, when just Gabi was be out there, it always made the road better. I can be a hermit and stay on the bus all day, but when she’s out there, she’s like, ‘Let’s go hiking, let’s go see this.’”

In addition to touring, McCreery says he hopes to return to the studio early next year.

“I’m definitely more of an album cycle writer than a non-stop writer,” he says. “We are getting into that new phase of once the deluxe album is out, we’re writing for the next project. It’s exciting. It’s a new time for me. Life has changed dramatically over the last few weeks, so I got a lot of stuff to write about!”

And yes, McCreery says the next album could very well include a musical ode to Avery.

“I’ve already written a few for him, before he was born. But I would imagine there’s a song or two about little Avery on the next album,” he says.