‘American Idol’ Contestant Caleb Kennedy Exits Show After Controversial Video Surfaces
A video showing a pre-teen Caleb Kennedy sitting next to someone in a hood similar to those worn by Ku Klux Klan members has surfaced. As a result, the now-16-year-old American Idol contestant has exited the show.
The country singer from South Carolina was a favorite heading into the Top 5 episode on Sunday (May 16). Now, only four contestants will compete, with three moving on to the finals.
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal spoke with Kennedy's mother, who says the video in question was taken when Kennedy was 12 years old. She further explains that her son had just watched a movie called The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) and was imitating those characters. He'd done similar after watching V for Vendetta.
"It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that's how it looks," Anita Guys says. "Caleb doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races."
The SHJ also reports that they obtained the original version of the video, and unlike the one making the rounds on social media, it did not have the word "bow" on the screen, nor did it have background music. Those additions were made later, by viewers on social media.
Still, Kennedy took ownership on his official social media pages, apologizing to those he let down and thanking those who have supported him. "I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that's not an excuse," he says.
This video is the second controversy surrounding this season's American Idol finalists. In April, eliminated contestant Cecil Ray Baker was arrested and charged with burglary after allegedly forcing his way into the home of his ex-girlfriend and hitting her. He, too, was a country singer; in fact, judges at one point called him the country Justin Bieber.
"The most promising thing about you, Caleb, is you sound like you,” judge Luke Bryan said after that performance.
Throughout the show, Kennedy was also praised for his original songwriting. He auditioned for American Idol with an original called "Nowhere."
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