Caleb Kennedy has left American Idol after a video of him sitting next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style hood surfaced on Wednesday, May 12.
Kennedy, 16, made it to the Top 5 earlier this week, but will no longer be competing in the reality singing competition.
In an Instagram post uploaded to his page on Wednesday, Kennedy wrote, “Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol. There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse.”
THIS SHOULD’VE STAYED IN YOUR DRAFTS: American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy allegedly seen in a resurfaced with someone wearing a KKK hood. Caleb is allegedly blocking anyone who mentions the video, according to multiple reports. pic.twitter.com/9OKHmvOCEB
— Def Noodles (@defnoodles) May 12, 2021
The video was recorded when Kennedy was 12-years-old.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kennedy’s Mother Has Spoken Out About the Video
On Wednesday, May 12, Kennedy’s mother, Anita Guy, stated that the “perception is not the meaning behind the short clip,” per the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
Guy said, “This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ and they were imitating those characters… It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks. Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”
Because of Kennedy’s departure from the show, only one person will be eliminated from this Sunday’s show. That means that only the Top 4 remain.
2. He Is a High School Football Player
Kennedy is a former football player. According to The State, who interviewed Kennedy’s grandparents, the 16-year-old currently attends Dorman High School, where he is described as a “down-to-earth kid” by principal Bryant Roberson.
“You couldn’t ask for a better student,” Roberson told The State.
As a freshman, Roberson played junior varsity football. And, as noted by the outlet, the school has had “more than a few players going on to the NFL.”
When Kennedy auditioned for American Idol, he left the football team, which Daniel Wyatt, the coach, stated was a “very good decision.”
“He needs to chase his dream,” the coach added.
3. He Made It to the Final 5 on ‘Idol’
Kennedy made it all the way to the Top 5 on American Idol before leaving the show. The teen hails from a small town in South Carolina called Roebuck, and prides himself as both a singer and songwriter.
When Kennedy sang the song “Nowhere” on a recent episode of Idol, Luke Bryan stated it was incredible, and asked who helped him write the song.
Kennedy simply replied, “No one.”
As pointed out by The State, Roebuck doesn’t have a downtown area. It only has “… a line of fix-it shops, strip malls, and a bank along state Highway 221.” The population is 2,300.
4. He Received His First Guitar on His 13th Birthday
Kennedy received his first guitar for his 13th birthday– he earned it after pulling together money he got from family members.
Kennedy’s grandmother, or Nana, told The State that the family would take him for guitar lessons, and “the teacher said he knew more than they did.”
The outlet continued, “His talent ran so deep he could hear a song and play it. Then he started hearing his own songs. One he wrote was called That’s My Papa. It’s a tribute to Blanton and includes the hickey line. After Kennedy’s parents divorced, Blanton became a major figure in the young man’s life.”
5. ‘I Want My Music to Tell a Story’
In an interview with Go Upstate, Kennedy said, “I want my music to tell a story.”
For Disney week, he performed a song from the Disney movie Cars, which he said was his go-to. The outlet reported him as saying, “When I started playing it, all the memories came back of watching that movie and hearing it in the opening scenes when they were going around that track.”
Judge Katy Perry described the performance as “infectious,” exclaiming that the song choice was “great for [Kennedy].”
The Top 4 on American Idol will next perform Sunday, May 16, on ABC. The show will air at 8pm ET/5pm PT.
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