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"I think they serve their purpose," the singer notes of the shows. "I would rather go see somebody at [Nashville venue] the Bluebird, or somebody who's writing their stuff. It's really hard for me."
Gary acknowledges that several of music's biggest stars, including Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery and Kelly Clarkson, all arrived by way of a TV talent show, but adds that the risks often outweigh the benefits.
"I love what they're doing and they're great singers and it's a great show," he says of "Idol," "but going and watching somebody as a star, and somebody who is going to put 40,000 people into an arena, to watch them sing songs that they have no emotional attachment to, whatsoever, I think is really hard to get a good show out of."
The 44-year-old isn't a fan of TV in general, preferring instead to spend his time doing other things. "[The TV's] on CNN and it's on mute," he explains. "There's music on all the time. I didn't have TVs until the Iraq war, because I didn't want them in my house. I never wanted the Nintendos or anything that went with it. I ended up kind of a news junkie after that and now I've got them all over."
The father of three insists his children never complained about the lack of electronic entertainment in their home. "They're not TV people either," he says, "because I never had them on or around, so none of us were couch potatoes. I have no problem turning onthe stereo on while you have the TV on and telling you that you shouldn't be watching the talking block anyway."
Gary's next album, Set You Free, will hit shelves early next year. The singer-songwriter will spend much of the next few months on the road, including a show in Fresno, Calif. this weekend. See a list of his upcoming concert dates here.