A 16-year-old from South Carolina impressed the American Idol judges with a self-penned country song on Sunday evening (March 7).
Caleb Kennedy showcased his songwriting abilities and gritty country vocals when performing an original, yet unfinished, tune and the judges couldn’t contain their excitement over his audition.
“You better finish that song ‘Nowhere,’ because it’s gonna take you somewhere,” Perry gushed.
Kennedy acknowledged that he sometimes acks self-confidence in his musical abilities.
“Listen man, here’s the deal, you ain’t the only kid out there that’s lacking self-confidence these days,” Bryan assured him. “Your voice tells a story far beyond a 16-year-old kid.”
His original song earned him a golden ticket to Hollywood after receiving praise from Idol judges Bryan as well as Perry and Lionel Richie.
“You got something real special,” Perry added. “You’re a real songwriter but you got a grit and gravel and crackle in your voice that says ‘I’m in pain someone, please come save me through this song.’ And there’s a lot of people like you, and a lot of people want to process whatever the heck they’re going through by listening to your music. If you want to change your reality the power is in your hands, right there with that guitar.”
“You have mastered at such a young age of 16, a storyteller’s voice,” Richie added. “The three of us, think you’re it and whatever you thought you heard when you were growing up they were lying to you cause they were jealous of you.”
“Young man, I have great expectations for your life,” Richie added.
Kennedy ultimately earned a yes from all three judges and will advance to Hollywood week.
Watch his full audition above.